Currently, food safety control is a shared responsibility among various government departments and ministries of Health and Child Welfare, Lands and Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, local authorities and the consumer.
Officially opening the fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament on Tuesday, President Robert Mugabe said the Food Control Bill would be tabled for consideration.
Mugabe said the bill would seek to establish the FCA, whose major function will be to ensure that food products on sale are safe for human consumption.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) and several local authorities’ health department and licensing inspectorate periodically raid shops and supermarkets found stocked with expired food and genetically modified foods (GMO) and confiscate the goods on grounds that it is unhealthy. CCZ regional manager for Matabeleland, Comfort Muchekeza said the Act would be a welcome development, but said the authority, once formed, should decentralise its operations.
Muchekeza said the existing laws were not fully enforced and fines imposed on culprits were not deterrent enough.
“We would also urge that the fines imposed on culprits be not be confined to retail premises, but cascade to the manufactures,” he said.
In terms of normal industry practice, expired food products have to be removed from shelves and destroyed. This is done to protect the wellbeing of consumers and the reputation of the brands.
There have been concerns that most imported food items, especially meat products from South Africa, would have expired, therefore posing a health hazard to consumers.
Huge tonnes of chickens from South Africa find their way to Zimbabwe to compensate for the serious shortage of poultry products in the country.