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24 January 2014

Fedhasa and NDT launch job-creation initiative

In a drive to encourage the youth to join the tourism industry, Fedhasa and the National Department of Tourism have launched the Food Safety Programme.

Caleb Mabaso, Beulah Mosupye and Eddy Khosa Caleb Mabaso, Beulah Mosupye and Eddy Khosa

We are of the view that there is a need for food safety management on a daily basis so that food safety is guaranteed at all times. – Caleb Mabaso, Fedhasa head of strategic projects

The Food Safety Programme is an initiative designed to create jobs in the hospitality industry, and also creates a new career path within the hospitality sector – that of food safety assurers (FSAs).

One hundred of the top graduates from Further Education and Training Colleges are being targeted to participate in a pilot Food Safety Programme project that spans KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

The pilot project will see the 100 graduates placed at hotels across these provinces from March 2014 and trained to be FSAs over 12 months by professional mentors; they will learn how to assess and monitor food safety in food preparation, storage and service within the hotel environment.

The costs of the year’s training will be carried by the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) and the National Department of Tourism (NDT).

Once the training period is complete, it is hoped that employers will see the value of the FSA position in their establishments and offer the trainees full-time employment.

Eddy Khosa, Fedhasa chairperson, believes the Food Safety Programme will deliver sustainable jobs to the youth while also creating much-needed jobs in the more remote areas of South Africa.

‘This is an extremely important step forward for the sub-economic sector of responsible tourism. A concerted effort needs to be made to bring the youth into the industry, inspire them, and train and encourage them to find their place in the sector,’ he said.

Khosa added that there has been overwhelming support from the large hotel groups in South Africa for the initiative, which provides significant opportunities for growth in sustainable jobs.

Following the pilot project, the initiative will be rolled out nationwide, and the NDT and Fedhasa will be looking for more industry partners to come on board.

There are strict requirements for food safety in the hospitality industry in South Africa, with government regulations requiring establishments serving food to comply with the international Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points standard – a system that deals with food safety by analysing and controlling the chemical, biological and physical hazards in the food production process.

Caleb Mabaso, Fedhasa head of strategic projects, said South Africa is taking on the challenge of being a food-safe destination. He said the FSAs will ensure more regular food safety management in establishments.

‘We are of the view that there is a need for food safety management on a daily basis so that food safety is guaranteed at all times,’ he said.

Once the FSAs have completed their training, the initiative will also be rolled out at local government level and in local communities to ensure food vendors and eateries in townships and rural areas are aware of, and comply with, the food safety standards.

Beulah Mosupye, NDT chief director: domestic tourism northern region, said that increasingly travellers internationally, especially from the European Union, are requesting food-safe destinations.

‘It’s therefore critical for us as a destination to ensure that we comply with all the requirements so that we can position South Africa as a competitive destination in terms of food safety,’ she said.