Boitekanelo College Nutrition and Dietetics department hosted a stakeholder meeting recently to unveil to their stakeholders their new offering – a food handling course. Senior Research Officer at the college Letlhogonolo Kgwatalala said they decided to come up with the short courses on food handling for the industry after seeing that there is a gap and that the public needs to be educated in such.
Kgwatalala recognised that with proper intake and preparation of food it then becomes good for nourishment and that it can be therapeutic, but not forgetting that if all these things are not done well then it can cause all ills that can even lead to death. She said the fact that the stomach is a muscle that extends should not be the reason for people to consume more than their body needs. “We felt obligated to protect the public and to share knowledge on the development and dissemination of food services,” she said. Kgwatalala said the food safety and hygiene course has been developed and targeted at everyone who handles food on a day to day basis because it has been proven that the food handling practices in the country are not really good at all.
Kgwatalala said what sets them apart is the fact that the programme is coupled with training and medical examination. She said to them educating the public and training food service providers is the most effective way of dealing with public health issues. Kate Harriman of Consumer Watchdog gave appalling examples of issues that they have to deal with because of the consumer not being taken seriously and sold things that should not have been in the shelves in the first place. Harriman said a lot of people are dying of food poisoning but it is not documented enough because even the consumers sometimes do not do anything when they realise that they have not been treated with the utmost respect that they deserve. She showed horrid pictures of the kitchens from the local supermarkets.
“Customers should know that they have the power to change things, we are here to assist and we will make sure that they pay for taking the consumers for granted,” she said. Some of the stakeholders that graced the event were representatives from Ocean Basket restaurant, KFC, Prison Services and Air Botswana who all seemed content about the program. They advocated that Boitekanelo College should push the ministry hard to check warehouses and other businesses that are not franchises because is like they focus more on franchises than the home grown food handlers like those that cook for children and even people in front of schools and offices.