Under the Act the Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) is empowered to establish tolerance for poisonous or harmful substances, food additives, or pesticide and other chemical contaminants; and to specify labelling and advertising requirements. Its duties include the inspection of establishments, collecting samples for analysis, and investigating complaints. When violations are found the EHP can seize, and destroy products and may implement legal action.
The following procedure shall be followed when a sample is taken by an EHP in terms of the powers conferred on EHP's under section 11 (1) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and disinfectants Act - 54 of 1972.
Samples for bacteriological analysis shall be taken with sterilised equipment and transferred to sterile sample containers taking precautions to prevent the contamination of the samples The sample container shall be stoppered and within 15 minutes of the sample being taken, shall be surrounded by crushed ice or other suitable refrigerant which comes into contact with the container and is capable of reducing the temperature of the sample to and maintaining it until delivered to an analyst at a temperature not exceeding 7 °C. On arrival at the laboratory the temperature shall not be above 7 °C. At no time shall the sample be frozen.
- The owner or his manager or agent or other person under whose care the relative article is shall, as soon as practicable after the sample has been obtained, be notified by the EHP of the sampling and of the purpose thereof. If the sample is not paid for, this notification shall be in writing.
- In the case of an article where the opening of the package would not hamper analysis or examination, the EHP shall, if the person referred to in point 1 is present, offer to divide the sample into three approximately equal portions and to furnish him with one portion.
- If the offer is accepted, the sample shall be divided and each portion packed separately, sealed and labelled to indicate its nature and to identify it as a portion of the original sample. One of the portions shall be handed to the person referred to in point 1, one will be sent to an analyst for analysis or examination and one carefully kept by the EHP until the case has been finalised. If the contents of one package are not sufficient for analysis or examination if divided as aforesaid, additional packages, the property of the same person, similarly labelled and purporting to contain a similar article, shall be obtained and the contents of two or more such packages shall then and there be mixed by the EHP and the mixture divided and dealt with as provided.
- If the offer is not accepted, the undivided sample shall be packed, sealed, labelled with a special label to indicate its nature and to identify it and sent to an analyst for analysis or examination.
- In the case of a perishable article in a sealed package or where no person referred to in point 1 is present or where the opening of the package would hamper analysis or examination, a similar procedure that described in point 4 shall be followed.
- The label of every sample submitted for analysis shall indicate whether or not the sample was divided.
- The original label of the package, if any, or a copy thereof shall accompany the sample sent to the analyst.
- In the case of milk or cream, the preservative tricresol, issued by the Department of Health in sealed packets each containing three tubes of the preservative, may be added. Where the addition of a preservative is considered advisable and the sample is not divided the contents of all three tubes shall be added to the sample; where the sample is divided the contents of one tube shall be added to each portion of the divided sample. If a person referred to in point 1 is present, the preservative shall be taken out of the sealed package and added to the sample in his presence and he shall be informed of the nature of the preservative.
- The sample may be delivered to the analyst by any convenient means provided the EHP's seal remains intact.