Why change the food safety law?

Laws change to keep up with ever evolving changes and values in societies. Apart from food safety rules being non-existent and current laws being fragmented and incomplete, a variety of developments on St Helena have driven these changes. Food safety is vital – with worldwide outbreaks of food-borne disease, increasing globalisation of food production and the food trade, the future operation of our Airport and food establishments associated with it, and a greater demand for food – changes are inevitable.

What is food law and why have it?

Food law is the term generally used to apply to legislation which regulates the production, trade and handling of food which are important factors in food quality and safety. Food, after all, is a basic right and food safety implies the absence or safe levels of contaminants, bacteria, naturally occurring toxins or any other substance that may make food injurious to health.

How will food businesses be affected by the proposed new law?

Businesses are already required to produce food that is safe to eat, but where deemed necessary by the Senior Environmental Health Officer, businesses will need to have a food safety management system in place based on  documented ‘own checks’.

The type of system they need will depend on the type and size of business. Many small businesses will only need a very simple system.

What is there to help set up such a system?

Quite a few businesses will already have such a system, as a ‘Safer Food, Better Business’ concept and practical approach to food safety management is being developed on Island. The Environmental Health Section will gladly give assistance and advice as required.

Are there other main changes where proposed legislation differs from the current law?

As far as possible requirements will be applied equally to St Helena produced and imported food.  Where domestic production includes process controls – there must be the equivalent for imports. This will be done by certification from the exporting country.

It will cover food safety, traceability and the need to notify, withdraw and or recall products not conforming to the food safety requirements.

This will require those originally labelling the food, namely the manufacturer, packer or seller, to set the appropriate durability indication or date mark, together with the storage required to achieve this shelf life.

Will there be a consultation process before legislation comes into force?

The Health Directorate will be inviting comments on the proposed new Food Safety Ordinance, and once draft legislation is fully examined there will be meetings where advice will be given and views can be exchanged. People can also always contact the Senior Environmental Health Officer on Tel: 22500 (ext 217) who will gladly assist with any information needed.


12 October 2015


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