ADVERTORIAL: CGCSA and members tackle food fraud

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Matlou Setati, CGCSA Executive. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), an industry body representing food and beverage companies, has teamed up with other its members to raise awareness of the pressing matter of food fraud also known as counterfeits from some informal retail outlets.

CGCSA is an industry association representing over 9 000 member companies in the Consumer Goods, Retail and Services sectors.

At the core of CGCSA’s purpose is their vision to become the leading Consumer Goods industry platform for advocacy, collaboration and best practice in South Africa and across the continent.

Bloemfontein Courant reached out to Matlou Setati, CGCSA Executive: Food Safety and Sustainability Initiative, to find out how they plan on tackling food fraud.

“Food fraud is presenting something for what it is not in order to mislead,” Setati started, “It could be for financial gain, or it could be to circumvent the responsibilities of paying taxes,” she said.

At the moment, South Africa does not have accurate data on the scale of food fraud or what is taking place within the country, as large-scale data collection has never been done. “Data is king, and as a country, we do not collect data,” explained Setati.

“This is what we’re currently faced with as a sector, that there is no collation of the level of food fraud that is happening.

“We only get pockets of incidents here and there and anecdotes from consumers who post on social media platforms. where you’d find that a product has been relabeled,” she said.

The CGCSA relies on the public to report food fraud or counterfeit products, and with the support of some of our members, CGCSA was able to unpack  the issue of food fraud within the Free State.

“We appreciate our  members calling us and proposing we collaborate, like we did in the region. We had a productive session with Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP’s) from the municipality, as they have the mandate and are prescribed by regulation to enter the facilities and do these checks,” Setati explained.

This  partnership and engagement with local EHP’s will allow the relevant officials to conduct inspections and identify counterfeit foods or products that may be harmful to consumers.

This process will also enable the relevant law enforcement agencies to step in and handle the matter of food fraud in a more structured manner.

The CGCSA is currently working on an app to help consumers report suspected counterfeit goods or food fraud.

“If someone from the community reports fraudulent activities, we collect this data, and this also helps the companies that might be affected. Together with our hotline (0800 0148 56)  we will convey the information to law enforcement to enable them to do their job better,” elaborated Setati.

 

“We understand that consumers are cash strapped and are always looking for bargains to stretch their budget, but it is critical that consumers buy from reputable outlets.

If unsure, and there’s suspicion that the product may have been tampered with, like we’ve seen with products that have been fraudulently packaged, they should rather not purchase the product.

Food safety is an important matter and food fraud could pose health risks,” Setati concluded

SETATI’S TIPS FOR SPOTTING COUNTERFEIT GOODS

  • Be vigilant
  • Get acquainted with the price.
  • Check the fill level of the packaging
  • Look for colour differences of products on shelf and in labels
  • Study the labels
  • Look at the date markings

Report any suspicious goods to the CGCSA on their hotline at 0800-014856.