How Safe is My Food?

Presenter: Ms Thabang Msimango
Presenter: Ms Tintswalo Baloyi
Presenter: Prof Lise Korsten

Ms Thabang Msimango

Thabang Msimango is a MSc student at the University of Pretoria, in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences under the supervision of Professor Lise Korsten who is the Co-director of the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation (DST-NRF) Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Miss Msimango holds BSc Biotechnology degree and a BSc Biotechnology honours degree both obtained from the University of Pretoria.

Thabang’s MSc project focuses on food safety issues in school feeding schemes primarily in the Gauteng Province. Her project aims to determine whether the fresh produce served in schools by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in South Africa is safe for human consumption. In addition, she also aims to determine the factors in the school environment that can contribute to the contamination of the fresh produce served in schools. Thabang was awarded the 2018 Student Travel Scholarship Award by the International Association for food protection which enabled her to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend and present at the IAFP 2018 Annual Meeting. Thabang has also presented at the National School Feeding Workshop convened by the Centre of Excellence in Food Security and co-hosted by the University of Western Cape in 2017. In future, Thabang would like to improve the food safety status in the country through her research.

Ms Tintswalo Baloyi

Tintswalo Baloyi, is a 23-year-old woman who’s actively involved in the scientific arena. She currently holds a BSc Agric in Plant Pathology from the University of Pretoria. At present, Tintswalo is studying towards her MSc Agric in Plant Pathology with key focus on Fresh Produce Safety. She is investigating the prevalence of food borne pathogens on fresh produce sold in informal markets and stored in homes in Ekhuruleni and Tshwane municipalities in the Gauteng province.  During her undergraduate studies Tintswalo received several accolades for the Best Student in plant pathology awarded by Golden Key, Syngenta, Bayer and GDARD respectively. To this point, she has offered over 3 poster and oral presentations at national and international scientific conferences which included; The IVth International Postharvest Pathology Symposium, The 22nd Biennial SAAFoST International conference and The Second International Food Safety and Security conference respectively. Moreover, she has participated in the Universities South Africa drive in collaboration with SABC radio for Food Safety Awareness. Finally, her future research prospects include sustainable agricultural practices coupled with food safety and security policy making. This journey was made possible by the help of DAFF and DST-NRF as funding bodies.

Prof Lise Korsten

Prof Korsten is currently the Co-Director within the Department of Science and Technology, Centre of Excellence Food Security.  She is also responsible for the food safety and regulatory control programmes within the DST Centre of Excellence Food Security.  She is a chief editor of Crop Protection and is chairing the International Society for Plant Pathology Task Force on Global Food Security. Prof Korsten has focussed her research mainly on complementary fields of postharvest technology and food safety as related to international trade in fresh produce.  She has been able to establish research teams in food safety, postharvest pathology, biocontrol and mushroom and fruit health. The value of her research programmes can best be illustrated by sustainable industry financial support.  She has been able to attract extensive national and international long term funding such as the Water Research Commission solicited research projects “An investigation into the link between water quality and microbiological safety of fruit and vegetables from the farming to the processing stages of production and marketing” and “Evaluation of the risks associated with the use of rain water harvested from roof-tops for domestic use and homestead food gardens, and groundwater for domestic use and livestock watering” as well as the 7th EU Framework project “Impact of climate change and globalisation on safety of fresh produce – governing a supply chain of uncompromised food sovereignty.

Food is intended to nourish our bodies, provide the adequate nutrients we need to maintain our bodies in good health. The food must be safe to eat. It must be free of any poisonous agents. There is also a culture aspect that motivates the food we eat.

Food safety has major implications on human health,

social behaviour and economy

Food safety has major implications on human health,

social behaviour and economy

Food safety has vast implications on human health, social behaviour and economy. The recent Listeria outbreak came as a shock. The implication of cold meats such as polony sent the country into an even bigger shock. These cold meats form an important part of our daily lives and the food we regularly eat. We incorporate them into salads, sandwiches and the township famous ‘spatlo’.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that laboratory confirmed cases of Listeria from 1 January 2017 to 17 July 2018 amounted to 1060, with 216 deaths. Polony and Vienna sales decreased by 70% and that of other cold meats by 50%. This caused millions worth of losses for the meat industry. It is estimated that 2000 jobs were lost following the outbreak. Over 4000 tons of recalled products were destroyed by thermal treatment or using landfill sites.

Join us in this talk as we discuss issues around the safety of the food we eat, the nutrition as well as the culture involved. We apply the recent Listeria outbreak that involved polony and other cold meats as an example of the importance of food in our daily lives.