IDM capacitates Councils on Food saftey and Hygiene management skills

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 10:15

As Botswana and the world face an unprecedented threat from the Covid19 pandemic, the Institute of Development Management (IDM) has identified the need to capacitate food handlers with relevant skills to effectively respond to the disease. Recently, the Institute conducted a five day training for schools management in Francistown to equip them with techniques to appreciate and understand the importance of food safety. 
The Regional Director of IDM, Richard Malikongwa said it is important to uplift hygiene standards because Botswana is aspiring to be a high income country. He highlighted that as one of the critical revenue streams, the hospitality industry needs to satisfy the international market in so far as food hygiene is concerned.  
“We must develop a bold signature about Botswana as a health and hygiene conscious nation in order for us to attract tourists and visitors into the country once the Covid19 situation normalizes,” he said. 
IDM Consultant overseeing the Centre for Local Governance, Ketlhomilwe Moletsane says in Botswana, Councils coordinate the process of feeding children in schools in their districts as part of their end to end service delivery program. He indicated that the Councils are not only responsible for feeding in primary schools but that their duties include developing, construction and maintenance of kitchens, food procurement, storage and the actual cooking and feeding of school pupils. 
Mr Moletsane emphasized the need for the training to be up-scaled and cascaded across all council departments responsible for the food chain. He said above everything, Councilors  as local government authorities must be familiarized with the concept as policy makers to make informed decisions on issues pertaining to food handling and related matters. 
“Food handling therefore is a delicate and sensitive subject which requires professional competencies and skills to avert health hazards on children and the society at large, particularly with the advent of Covid19. The pandemic poses a challenge to authorities to not only enforce personal hygiene measures and reduce or eliminate the risk of food contamination, but to develop bylaws geared towards regulating the entire food value chain process,” he explained.
When addressing the nation during World Food Safety day last month, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Lemogang Kwape said the COVID19 pandemic has caused unparalleled social and economic disruptions. He said food industries have had to innovate production processes in order to ensure that food is not only available but also safe. “Although there is no substantial evidence to date of COVID-19 being transmitted via food or food packaging, it is critical to maintain the movement of food along the food chain. The “new normal” calls for strengthening food hygiene and sanitation practices as well as implementing food safety management systems.”
The Senior Consultant under the Travel and Tourism, Ms. Cathrine Kebakile says whilst in Francistown they trained heads of schools, SHE Officers, cooks and procurement officers on general food safety measures, the correct use of kitchen chemicals, standard operating procedures, and the correct storage of food, food preparation processes and hygiene standards in food establishments.  She said it is also important for food handlers to adhere to regulations to safeguard the public safety along the food handling supply chain from farm to table.
Training program Consultant and renowned executive Chef, Thuto Masala indicated that the Food Safety and Hygiene Management training was designed for cooks, food vendors and handlers in all food outlets.“Part of the training gave participants the opportunity to conduct hygiene audits in selected schools in order to identify critical control points and realize the importance of having standard operating procedures in kitchens to assist them conduct proper cleaning using the right chemicals,” he said, adding that this audit process was done in conjunction with Bidvest Steiner who are IDMs collaborating partners in facilitating this training.
During the awarding of certificates to participants, His Worship the Mayor of the City of Francistown, Councilor Godisang Radisego thanked IDM for identifying Francistown City as recipients of the training, which he said came at the right time.
“COVID19 has made us realize that we have been casual with our health and hygiene. As a licensing authority, Councils need to acknowledge this as a wakeup call to facilitate development of policy instruments geared towards standardizing and regulating the food industry”. 
He encouraged trainees to be exemplary in showcasing the skills acquired and challenged them to practice the knowledge both at work and home, especially at this critical time of Covid19”.