Ensuring food safety at early childhood development centres

Environmental Health in road-shows to prevent outbreak of diseases at ECD Centers.

Thousands of children go to Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers every day – imagine the shock and disbelief when residents of Emfuleni Local Municipality learned that a child had died in one of these facilities.

The incident which took place earlier this year shone the spotlight brightly on food safety in our ECDs after investigations revealed the cause of death as food poisoning.

To prevent a repeat of this tragedy, the municipality’s Environmental Health Department continues to conduct road-shows to ECD centers to educate practitioners on tips to prevent food poisoning cases.

In one of the workshops held at the Vereeniging City Hall on Wednesday 14th November, principals and ECD practitioners from Bophelong, Boipatong, Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark and surrounding areas gathered in their numbers to learn about creating safer spaces for children in their centers.
Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development, Councillor Dimakatso Malisa and the Acting Manager in the Department, Sindiswa Moeketsi, both delivered welcoming remarks and explained the purpose of the workshop.

ELM Environmental Health Practitioners are working hard to prevent the outbreak of diseases within ECD centers.

They have since intensified their inspection schedule to ensure that all children are safe at hundreds of ECD centers within the municipality.
Toto Mlaza of Mlaza Pre-school from Bophelong said he learned a lot about how to preserve food.

“The first thing I’m going to do at my ECD center is to call a meeting with all my staff members to share information I have gathered here with them. Today I know that I must take at least 20 seconds for hand-washing to kill as many germs as possible,” said Mlaza.

He said ECD practitioners also learned of correct ways for food storage, transport and preparation with caution to avoid food poisoning.

John Soso, one of the municipality’s Environmental Health Practitioners, said the visits to ECDs help save children from harmful situations, by empowering ECD practitioners with knowledge.

An enthusiastic Suretha Van Staden from Duncanville’s ‘Busy Antz’, also attended the workshop and called the experience educational and informative.

“It was a great learning experience, it’s so scary to know how germs can cause harm when we don’t have a plan to deal with them,” she said.

The Environmental Health Department runs this series of workshops in partnership with the Gauteng Health and Social Development Department to help ECDs comply with strict requirements to ensure the health and safety of children.

John said the role of the department goes beyond law enforcement but also covers the duty to provide regular educational sessions with ECDs.

The main focus of the workshop was food handling and personal hygiene when handling food.

By Thabiso Radebe
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