NSF supports clients throughout the COVID-19 Lockdown

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NSF Africa has continued to live up to its reputation as the most trusted name in global food safety, by announcing it is available throughout to help businesses in the agriculture, processing, food equipment, restaurant and retail industries to navigate the food safety and regulatory environment as always.

In a letter to clients at an early stage of the national lockdown, NSF Africa’s MD Wouter Conradie said: “We want to assure you that NSF International is here to support you. Our public health mission is as critical now, during this COVID-19 crisis, as it has ever been. Our experts around the world are working with our clients to help maintain the safety of drinking water, food supply chains, critical medical devices and equipment for infection control.”

Emergency measures

Clients were informed of the emergency measures that had been put in place to ensure that NSF would be able to continue serving them in the best possible manner in pursuit of food safety and public health. NSF Experts around the world have in this time worked with clients to help maintain the safety of drinking water, food supply chains, critical medical devices and equipment for infection control.

South Africa’s food manufacturing industry has faced challenges in the sense that production facilities and pack houses have had to focus a lot of attention on changing the way they operate, to ensure social distancing and new working practices in order to protect the well-being of their staff.

Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that COVID-19 was not known to be transmitted by food, it is still regarded as a priority of the utmost importance that specific procedures, practices and rules be implemented at food manufacturing facilities to minimise the risk of the virus spreading amongst the staff and contractors at facilities.

Because of its public health mission, NSF was considered a provider of essential services in most global jurisdictions during this critical period. “We took numerous precautions to protect our teams and customers, such as utilising remote methods to conduct required audits and providing additional online training options,” says Conradie.

NSF’s role in dealing with these challenges

NSF International has for the past 75 years been a global leader in public health and safety, working to protect the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the health care products we use and the environment we all share. The organisation holds more than 75 unique accreditations, licenses and certifications including ANSI, IAS and UKAS.

Locally, NSF took on the following responsibilities during this challenging time:

Assessing how food retailers and manufacturers rate the risks their customers, employees and supply chains are exposed to due to COVID-19, through conducting audits and risk assessments at facilities that are not accessible on account of the virus.

All NSF assessors are qualified food industry professionals, recruited from leading manufacturers and retailers. “We have a rigorous approach to assessor selection and training.”

NSF Certification manages a number of inspection and certification schemes in collaboration with various organisations for the benefit of good agricultural practices. GLOBALGAP for Fruit and Vegetables was developed to promote good practice in the fresh produce industry and Tesco Nurture (previously known as Tesco Nature’s Choice) is a standard required of all producers supplying Tesco with fresh fruit, vegetable and salad products. It makes sure that best agricultural practices are applied in the production of the produce.

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) was established to promote a better public understanding of agriculture and following LEAF farming principles not only brings benefits to wildlife, but also reduces the risk of pollution and helps demonstrate the production of safe, high quality, environment-friendly food.

BRC IOP Packaging Standard

Certification in compliance with the BRC IOP Packaging Standard for food manufacturers is a fundamental requirement of most leading food retailers. The standard is designed to assess the ability of food processors to comply with food safety requirements and demonstrate due diligence.

The standard operates at two product levels: use for food contact packaging and use for non-contact packaging materials, with appropriate requirements in place at each level.

The principal requirements of the standard are the adaptation of risk assessment, quality management systems and control of product quality, factory environmental standards & personnel.

The ISO 22000 standard enables food companies to have their HACCP and food safety management systems certified to an internationally recognised standard. The standard is based on the principles of HACCP as the means of ensuring that both general food safety programmes (pre-requisites) and the specific critical controls are identified, implemented effectively and periodically reviewed. The standard uses many of the principles of ISO 9000 to support the food safety management system and to encourage continuous improvement.

For more information and advice to re-open and stay open, contact NSF Africa Technical Manager for Food Manufacturing, Jason Nyman at [email protected]

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za