06 JUNE 2019


Restaurant Safety Tips

With sharp equipment, open flames, and tight spaces, there are many safety risks present in a restaurant. To keep your establishment safe for employees as well as customers, it’s important to be aware of these hazards and minimize them as much as possible. Keep reading for our guidelines on how to train your employees, operate equipment, and prevent fires and common injuries to ensure that your restaurant operates safely for everyone.

Train Your Employees in Restaurant Safety Procedures

In order to maintain a safe working environment, it is important that each of your staff members follows safety procedures. Your kitchen is only as safe as your employee who has received the least amount of training. For this reason, investing time in training your employees is one of the most effective ways to make your restaurant safe.

Try to customize their training to processes used in your unique kitchen, and consider encouraging your employees to acquire ServSafe certification from the National Restaurant Association. This restaurant safety training program teaches your employees basic food safety and sanitation practices, including handling allergens and preventing cross-contamination.

Operate Restaurant Equipment Safely


A key part of training your employees is showing them how to use your kitchen equipment properly. Refer to the following checklist to ensure that misused or faulty equipment doesn’t cause an emergency in your kitchen.

  • Use equipment properly.All pieces of equipment should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Avoid electrical hazards.Keep electrical appliances away from wet areas, and check their cords for damage regularly. If there are cracks, frays, or other signs of damage, stop using the appliance immediately until you can replace its cord. 
  • Prevent appliance failure.Have your appliances regularly inspected by a professional. Do not attempt to repair broken appliances by yourself. 

Practice Restaurant Fire Safety

According to data from the U.S. Fire administration, roughly 5,600 restaurant fires are reported each year, with cooking as the leading cause of incidents. Making sure that kitchen staff members are alert and attentive to cooking dishes is the simplest way to prevent fires in your establishment.

However, there are other important measures to take when it comes to restaurant fire safety. Here are some steps you can take toward preventing fires in your kitchen.

Install Fire Safety Equipment

  • Have multiple fire extinguishers in your establishment, and do not put them only in your kitchen.
  • Install emergency lights and exit signs throughout your space.
  • Look into appliances with fire suppression systems. When activated, these units can switch off your fuel supply and dispense substances that help to put out flames. Some units release these chemicals automatically and others have manual switches. 

Implement Fire Safety Procedures

  • Keep flammable objects away from flames.Do not store dish towels near your cooking equipment, and be sure that your employees are not wearing baggy clothing that could catch fire.
  • Know how to put out a grease fire.Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Instead, cover the flames with a metal lid and turn off the heat source. Use a fire extinguisher if the fire persists.
  • Know how to use a fire extinguisher. Ensure that each of your employees knows how to properly use this equipment. Additionally, always replace your extinguisher when it is low on fuel.
  • Have an evacuation plan.Keep this plan posted somewhere where everyone can see it.
  • Know how to switch off your power sources.Teach your staff members how to turn off gas and/or electrical power in the case of an emergency.

Prevent Common Restaurant Injuries

With the proper restaurant safety rules in place, many of the most common on-the-job injuries can be avoided. Keep reading to find out which injuries happen most often and how to prevent them. 

Lacerations and Punctures

With knives, slicers, and the occasional broken glass, restaurant employees are at risk for cuts constantly. To prevent these injuries, your staff members should transport knives carefully around your kitchen space and pay attention to their cutting task, so they dont injure themselves or others. You can also provide your employees with cut-resistant gloves for extra precaution. Broken glass should always be handled with a broom and protective gloves.


Your employees can easily get burned, even without a serious kitchen fire. Staff members should always wear oven mitts or use pot holders to handle heated cookware. 

Sprains and Strains

Your busy commercial kitchen can get crowded during meal services. Even if space is at a premium, it is important keep commonly used items in easy-to-reach places. Repeated bending and twisting is not good for joints, so try to keep many of your tools at arm’s length or close to it. Additionally, you should educate your employees on safe lifting techniques to avoid back injury when moving equipment or bulk ingredients.

>Spills can also put your staff members and customers at risk for injury. Make sure that all spills are attended to as soon as possible and clearly mark wet floors in all areas of your establishment.

Eye Injury

During cooking or cleaning, staff members’ eyes are vulnerable to splashes of grease, sanitizing chemicals, and ingredients. Employees should exercise caution when cleaning your workspace or front-of-house areas and wear protective safety glasses when warewashing or cleaning up broken glass. 

Provide Your Employees with Safety Equipment

While training and preparation are important for restaurant safety, some tasks are best performed with protective equipment. Consider providing these items to your staff to keep them safe in your kitchen.


Back Support Belts from $4.10

Protective Safety Glasses from $0.81

Dishwashing Gloves from $0.89


A busy kitchen presents many hazards, but you can keep your staff members safe if you take caution while cooking, cleaning, and using equipment. When accidents do happen, have a fully stocked first aid kit or call the appropriate emergency number. Practicing restaurant kitchen safety procedures protects your employees and keeps your establishment efficient and operational.

Legislative update


03 JUNE 2019



June 2004

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH Republic of South Africa


TITTLE          PAGE

Background  …………………………………………………….… 3
Definitions………………………………………………………………….… 4
Introduction and aim…………………………………………………………… 5
Conceptual clarification……………………………………………………. 6
Food safety alerts…………………………………………………… 6 
Food product recalls ………………………………………………… 7 
Food control authorities…..………………………………………… 8
Mechanisms of a national food safety alerts and food product recalls….. 11 
National food safety alerts……………………………………….…… 12 
Voluntary and official food product recalls…………………………… 12 
Procedures during an official food product recall………………… 13
Procedural arrangements and responsibilities…………………………… 18 
Department of Health………………………….…………………… 19 
South African Bureau of Standards……………….………………. 21
Conclusion…………………………………………………….…………….. 22
Annexes……………………………………………………….……………… 23




Recently South Africa has experienced incidents where certain food products had to be recalled on a national scale. One was an incident that occurred in February 2002 in the Gauteng Province, where two children died from botulism after consuming contents of a tin of canned pilchards in tomato. This incident resulted in a nationwide food safety alert and a call to withdraw all tins of pilchards in tomato, which had the same batch number as the implicated tin. Further investigation revealed that this was not a general foodborne outbreak but an isolated case, where children from a needy family consumed the contents of a badly rusted and damaged tin of pilchards in tomato, which was received by the family as donation. The incident itself revealed several shortcomings, in the food control system, which could have resulted in a more severe situation should this have been a nationwide foodborne disease outbreak. As a result several recommendations were made to the Department of Health, one of which being the need to streamline coordination between the departments and components involved in food control as well as disease prevention and control so as to be better prepared for foodborne disease outbreaks of a national (and even international) magnitude. Hence, the decision was taken to develop Policy Guidelines on National Food Safety Alerts and Official Product Recalls.



Consignment of foodstuffs refers to a specific batch/lot of foodstuffs as specified on the relevant export documentation of the exporter and which can be identified by the certifying officer for inspection/sampling purposes, depending on the nature of the certification as determined by the importing country.

Food control means a mandatory, regulatory activity of enforcement by the competent health authority to provide consumer protection and ensure that all food during production, handling, storage, processing and distribution is safe, wholesome and fit for human consumption; conform to safety requirements and are honestly and accurately labelled as prescribed by law.

Food safety refers to the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use.

Hazard means a biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.

Risk refers to a function of the probability of an adverse health effect and the severity of that effect, consequential to a hazards(s) in food.



A national food safety alert refers to steps taken by the national health authority aimed at informing consumers of a potential or real health risk deriving from a specific foodstuff, which could still be available at food outlets or in the homes of consumers. It is further intended to raise awareness with the relevant health authorities responsible for the control of the foodstuff concerned. Such a food safety alert may, in some instances, be followed by a food product recall, which is conducted to protect public health and safety. Thus, the main objective of any recall is to effectively and efficiently remove from the market any food product that is unsafe for human consumption. 

There is no legislation in South Africa that directly forces any food business to initiate and conduct an industry/trade food recall. In addition, it is not mandatory for any food business to have a recall plan in place. All recalls by the food industry are initiated voluntarily in the interest of public safety. However, section 2(1) of the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act No. 54 of 1972) prevents any person from selling food that is unfit for human consumption. In addition, the Codex Code of Ethics for International Trade in Food (see Annex A) states that all consumers are entitled to safe, sound and wholesome food and to be protected from unfair trade practices. Thus, by implication,. this code of ethics also prohibits any person to put into international trade any food that is unfit for human consumption.

Although the regulations relating to inspections and investigations (R 1128 of May 1991), as promulgated under the Health Act, 1977 (Act 63 of 1977), make provision for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) to detain, sample and if necessary seize any foodstuff, in their areas of jurisdiction, which is deemed harmful or injurious to human health, there is currently no national policy in place that refers to an official food product recall. As a result, it has become difficult for food control authorities to execute, monitor and record any official food product recalls that may need to be conducted in South Africa.


It has also been difficult to monitor and record any voluntary food product recalls instituted by industry.

The aim of these policy guidelines is thus to provide guidance on the roles and responsibilities of industry, but particularly, food control authorities, regarding national food safety alerts and official food product recalls, and how these should be conducted to ensure public safety. These policy guidelines also provide a framework on which the Directorate: Food Control of the Department of Health can keep a record and develop a database of official, as well as voluntary food product recalls being conducted in the country in the interest of public health. Only records of Class I and Class II food product recalls will be kept by the Directorate: Food Control.



4.1 FOOD SAFETY ALERTS Industry may voluntarily issue a food safety alert, requesting consumers/customers to return the implicated food product to retailers and/or to the business concerned, or to dispose of it as it is not fit for human consumption. In this case, the consumers/customers are usually refunded for the products they return. For the purposes of these guidelines, this will be referred to as a voluntary food safety alert.

In other instances, for example where industry fails to issue a food safety alert, the national health authority may issue an official food safety alert, whereby provincial and municipal health authorities, and, in some cases the public, are informed of a risk associated with a particular foodstuff. Provincial and municipal authorities are usually informed in writing by the Department of Health, Directorate: Food Control, while a media release, by the Communications Unit of the Department of Health, is used to inform the public. In most cases an official food safety alert is followed by an official food product recall.


4.2 FOOD PRODUCT RECALLS A food product recall can be conducted voluntarily by industry and is therefore referred to as a voluntary recall. All food businesses (i.e manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, etc) share the responsibility of ensuring that the public in South Africa is protected from products that present a risk to health or gross deception, or are otherwise defective. Thus they have a moral obligation to recall any food products that have been released into the market that they know may pose a health risk to the consumers.

Universally, it is recognised that there are essentially three types of food product recalls: Class I recall, involving a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death. Class II recall, involving a potential health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food. Class III recall, involving a situation where eating the food will not cause adverse health consequences. Class III recalls fall outside the scope of these policy guidelines and will not be considered henceforth. Thus, henceforth, food product recalls referred to in this document refer to Class I and Class II food product recalls only.

Food product recalls can also be classified as either a trade/industry recall or a consumer recall.  A trade/industry recall involves recovery of the product from distribution centres and wholesalers, as well as from production premises, hospitals, restaurants, and other major catering establishments, as well as outlets that sell food manufactured for immediate consumption. A consumer recall involves recovery of the product from all points in the production and distribution network, including consumers. This is a more extensive recall.

In those situations where industry fails to voluntarily conduct a food product recall, and food control authorities conduct the recall, this will be regarded as an official food products recall.

 84.3 FOOD CONTROL AUTHORITIES 4.3.1 Roles and responsibilities In South Africa food control is shared between several authorities and various components, within the health sector, at national, provincial and local level. A brief outline of the roles and responsibilities of the different authorities is as follows:

4.3.1(a) The National Department of Health: The Directorate: Food Control administers food legislation on behalf of the Minister of Health. It is thus responsible for: / Coordinating activities, such as food product recalls, within the country / Setting national norms and standards / Supporting provinces and local authorities / Assuming the role of the National Codex Contact Point

4.3.1(b) Provincial Department of Health: Sections responsible for, amongst others, food control at provincial level are referred to as Environmental Health Services. They are responsible for: / Coordinating activities within the province / Providing support to the local authorities / Rendering specialised services (e.g import control, which is done on behalf of the national Department of Health) / Setting protocols and strategies for health within the province

4.3.1(c) Districts/Local authorities (Municipalities): At district/local level Environmental Health Services are also responsible for, amongst others, food control in their areas of jurisdiction. They are involved in the following activities: / Health promotion / Involving community participation in health-related issues / Hygiene control (within the environment)


/ Investigating complaints / Law enforcement / Identifying / controlling health hazards / Monitoring for compliance to legislation

4.3.1(d) National Department of Agriculture: At the National Department of Agriculture the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance is responsible for: / Regulating and promoting the safety of animals and animal products / Regulating and promoting the quality of agricultural products / Ensuring the safety, quality and efficiency of production enhancement agents / Promoting the safety of food of plant and animal origin

4.3.1(e) The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS): The Division: Food and related industries of the SABS is responsible for the control of canned meat/fish products and frozen marine products. It is recognised by the European Union and other countries as the certification authority for exports related to fish and seafood products.

4.3.2 Legislation The relevant South African legislation and the authorities that are involved in the administration and enforcement thereof include the following:

4.3.2(a) The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act No. 54 of 1972): This Act governs the manufacture, sale and importation of foodstuffs, cosmetics and disinfectants from a safety/public health point of view and is administered by the Directorate: Food Control of the Department of Health and enforced by local authorities in their areas of jurisdiction. Import control is performed on behalf of the National


Department by Provincial Departments of Health. The Act regulates the foodstuffs as such, as well as labelling and advertising of foodstuffs. It does not regulate hygiene provisions that relate to the handling and transport of food.

4.3.2(b) The Health Act, 1977 (Act 63 of 1977): There are several sets of regulations promulgated under this Act that have direct relevance to food safety and are enforced by local authorities in their areas of jurisdiction. These include: / Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food (G.N. No. R. 918 of 30 July 1999), which regulate hygiene provisions that relate to, amongst others, the handling and transport of food. / Regulations Relating to Milking Sheds and the Transport of Milk (G.N. No.  R. 1256 of 27 June 1986). / Regulations Relating to Inspections and Investigations (G.N. No. R. 1128 of 24  May 1991), which make reference to, amongst others, detention and seizures of food. / Regulations Regarding Food and Water Vessels (G.N. No. R. 1575 of 10  September 1971), which aim to prevent the transmission of certain metals  from containers to foodstuffs. / General Regulations Promulgated in terms of the Public Health Act, 1919 (G.N. No. R. 180 of 10 February 1967), which make reference to the transport of meat and meat products.

4.3.2(c) The International Health Regulations Act, 1974 (Act 28 of 1974): This Act provides for the approval, by the Department of Health, of the source of food for consumption at ports, airports, on vessels and on aircraft, as well as for the inspection of such premises and the sampling of food by local authorities. The provincial health departments currently approve premises on behalf of the national Department of Health.


4.3.2(d) The Agricultural Products Standards Act, 1990 (Act 119 of 1990): This Act controls and promotes specific product quality standards for the local market and for export purposes. It is administered and enforced by the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance in the Department of Agriculture. Assignees such as the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) are appointed and authorized as assignees to do physical inspections under the Act.

4.3.2(e) The Meat Safety Act (Act 40 of 2000): This Act is administered by the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance in the Department of Agriculture and enforced by the Departments of Agriculture of the nine provinces. It addresses, amongst others, meat safety and hygiene standards in abattoirs and regulates the importation and exportation of unprocessed meat.

4.3.2(f) The Liquor Products Act (Act 60 of 1989) This Act is also administered by the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance of the Department of Agriculture. It addresses requirements for all liquor products except beer, sorghum and medicine.

4.3.2(g) The Standards Act, 1993 (Act 29 of 1993): This Act is administered by the SABS and has compulsory specifications that address canned meat and fish products, as well as frozen seafoods.



7 July 2017

The issue of health and safety at all workplaces has in recent times been deemed to be so important that it needs to be comprehensively regulated by statutes.  The statutes give a clear indication as to how one must fulfil the requirements.  In respect of the above, the following objectives must be evident within every business in South Africa

  • Employees must understand the concept of health and safety.
  • A comprehensive understanding of compliance with regards to health and safety statutory requirements, must be achieved by management.
  • Management must have a clear understanding and appreciation of what the consequences may be if they fail to comply to the health and safety statutes.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: It must be clearly understood that “food safety”, and the objective of food safety legislation differs from the objective of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 and its promulgated Regulations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 stipulates the following duties of Employers towards their employees and towards people other than their employees.

Section 8.  General duties of employers to their employees

1) Every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees.

2) Without derogating from the generality of an employer’s duties under subsection (1), the matters to which those duties refer include in particular –

  1. a) the provision and maintenance of systems of work, plant and machinery that, as far as is reasonably practicable, are safe and without risks to health;
  2. b) taking such steps as may be reasonably practicable to eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard to the safety or health of employees, before resorting to personal protective equipment;
  3. c) making arrangements for ensuring, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the production, processing, use, handling, storage or transport of articles or substances;
  4. d) establishing, as far as is reasonably practicable, what hazards to the health or safety of persons are attached to any work which is performed, any article or substance which is produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and any plant or machinery which is used in his business, and he shall, as far as is reasonably practicable, further establish what precautionary measures should be taken with respect to such work, article, substance, plant or machinery in order to protect the health and safety of persons, and he shall provide the necessary means to apply such precautionary measures;

e) providing such information, instructions, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

  1. f) as far as is reasonably practicable, not permitting any employee to do any work or to produce, process, use, handle, store or transport any article or substance or to operate any plant or machinery, unless the precautionary measures contemplated in paragraphs (b) and (d), or any other precautionary measures which may be prescribed, have been taken;
  2. g) taking all necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of this Act are complied with by every person in his employment or on premises under his control where plant or machinery is used;
  3. h) enforcing such measures as may be necessary in the interest of health and safety;
  4. i) ensuring that work is performed and that plant or machinery is used under the general supervision of a person trained to understand the hazards associated with it and who have the authority to ensure that precautionary measures taken by the employer are implemented; and
  5. j) causing all employees to be informed regarding the scope of their authority as contemplated in section 37(1)(b).

Section 9. General duties of employers and self-employed persons to persons other than their employees

1) Every employer shall conduct his undertaking in such a manner as to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than those in his employment who may be directly affected by his activities are not thereby exposed to hazards to their health or safety.

2) Every self-employed person shall conduct his undertaking in such a manner as to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons who may be directly affected by his activities are not thereby exposed to hazards to their health or safety.

Section 38.  Offences, penalties and special orders of the court

(1) Any person who –

(A & P) contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of section 8 and 9, shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding R50 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

2) Any employer who does or omits to do an act, thereby causing any person to be injured at a workplace, or, in the case of a person employed by him, to be injured at any place in the course of his employment, or any user who does or omits to do an act in connection with the use of plant or machinery, thereby causing any person to be injured, shall be guilty of an offence if that employer or user, as the case may be, would in respect of that act or omission have been guilty of the offence of culpable homicide had that act or omission caused the death of the said person, irrespective of whether or not the injury could have led to the death of such person, and on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding R100 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

Please make contact with Universality Health, Safety and Environmental law Specialists @ so that we can assist you with a industry specific solution, as used by over 200 companies in the restaurant/hospitality industry.

Hazards Manual Handling – What are the specific Hazards

Hazards: Manual Handling – What are the specific Hazards?

21 June 2017

Hazards: Manual Handling

What are the specific Hazards?

  • Tables and dining rooms, delivery or collecting of plates, cutlery and drink trays or serving customers. Many of the activities in your industry involve manual handling.
  • Manual handling injuries usually result in strains and sprains to workers’ lower back, however they may also involve the neck and limbs. On occasions injuries may result in surgery or life-long disability affecting your career and social life.Injury may occur suddenly or develop gradually over a period of time.

ASK for training!!

To reduce the likelihood of suffering an injury as a result of manual handling, it’s important to:

  • Try and organise your work so manual handling is limited
  • Reduce repetitive or sustained bending
  • Push rather than pull
  • Plan the task first
  • Use mechanical equipment where available e.g. hoists, trolleys, step ladders etc
  • When lifting or carrying keep the load as close to your body as possible
  • Use team lifts where appropriate.