Trade and Industry Committee Concerned about Cold Meats Industry Blocking Compulsory Specifications for Last Four Years

Parliament� Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry today received a briefing on listeriosis and learnt with shock that four years ago the processed meat industry complained about high levies and thus the compulsory specifications on processed meats could not be implemented.

The committee heard from the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) that no compulsory specifications exist for processed meat products. The NRCS only regulates canned goods and not processed meat products. A standard was developed with the view to regulate meat products; however, due to disagreements with the industry, the regulation was referred back to the Department of Health.

The committee heard that the final draft of the processed meat compulsory specifications was accepted during a full stakeholder meeting on 7 March 2014; however, the industry argued that the operational costs for levies presented were too high. A levy sub-committee comprising members from the manufacturers association, the South African Meat Processors Association, retailers, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the South African National Consumer Union and the NRCS was subsequently set up to further deliberate and come up with a solution. No agreement was reached.

Committee Chairperson, Ms Joanmariae Fubbs, said: This is absolutely shocking. What is the cost of a human life? This type of behaviour from the industry cannot be tolerated.

Ms Fubbs further requested the names of the associations and/or retailers that were averse to the levies. The committee would like a comprehensive list of all those associations and industry partners that argued the levies were too high.

This would include the retailers.

The committee further noted with grave concern that the hygiene requirements were not part of this proposed regulation and will only be covered in the general requirements for all foodstuffs under the Department of Health. The committee will be engaging with other committees including Health and Agriculture to invite them to a joint meeting on this cross-cutting challenge.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) ordered a recall of affected goods on 4 March 2018. The NCC was concerned about the disposal of products and called for incineration as bacteria can also be transferred to the soil.

Regarding concerns about the Ford Kuga recalls and a further recent incident in which a different model to the recalled Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost model was recently involved in a fire. The investigation into this incident has not been finalised yet. The committee heard from the NCC about fears and concerns experienced by people in South Africa that the Ford Kuga was redirected from markets where it was recalled and dumped in South Africa. The committee called on the NCC to provide a written clarification on this allegation. We will establish what legal powers Parliament has to request these vehicles removed from our roads, said Ms Fubbs.

Further, she requested a full explanation for the reasons which allowed these cars to remain on South African roads. We should not just accept the safety specifications of the European Union. We should be able to say we are a sovereign country and should be looking into developing our own safety regulations. These cars have been removed from the roads in United States, so why are we still allowing them here?

The committee further urged the NRCS to develop local specifications to ensure vehicles manufactured in foreign countries are suitable for South Africa's terrain and climate. The committee indicated that it will have a follow-up meeting with the NCC and NRCS towards the middle of May 2018.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa