ZIMBABWE – Amidst rising concerns over food safety, the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) has issued a stark warning, revealing that only one ice-producing company in Harare meets the required quality standards.

The revelation comes after a recent study conducted by the University of Zimbabwe’s Department of Nutrition Dietetics and Food Sciences unveiled alarming levels of potentially dangerous bacteria in various ice brands sold across the capital.

SAZ’s Acting Director-General, Mr. Cosmus Mukoyi, highlighted the importance of certification, emphasizing that it serves as a third-party attestation to the ice’s safety and fitness for consumption.

However, out of the numerous ice-producing companies operating in Harare, only one has obtained this vital certification, as reported by Health Times.

Mukoyi urged consumers to be vigilant, ensuring they purchase ice products displaying the SAZ mark, providing assurance of compliance with relevant quality standards.

The research conducted by Dr. Batsirai Chipurura and his team exposed a staggering 99 percent of packed ice brands in liquor stores and supermarkets, carrying health risks due to high levels of harmful bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and coliform bacteria.

Additionally, the ice cubes and blocks were found to contain elevated levels of nitrites, known to be linked to cancer in humans.

Uncovering the lack of regulation and approval, the study highlighted that most ice brands had not been registered with the Ministry of Health or certified by SAZ.

This concerning discovery has sparked a public outcry, with consumers demanding transparency and accountability from the ice-producing companies.

In response to the revelations, the City of Harare Health Department and the Government Analyst Laboratory have initiated investigations to assess the situation comprehensively.

Dr. Prosper Chonzi, the City Health Director, stressed the seriousness of the report and the need for decisive action. He assured the public that his department is prepared to name and shame any companies found violating ice food safety standards.

To protect public health and maintain strict food safety standards, it is crucial for both regulatory bodies and ice-producing companies to work hand-in-hand. SAZ, with its expertise, is willing to collaborate with ice producers to ensure adherence to quality standards, eliminating uncertified ice from the market.

Contaminated ice can be a potential medium for transmitting pathogens to both food and humans, posing significant health risks. The study also raised concerns about water quality in Harare, where toxins were found in the water supply, endangering the health of millions of residents.

As consumers and authorities continue to grapple with the implications of the study, the need for rigorous inspections and adherence to quality standards in the ice production industry becomes more apparent.

The call for transparency, accountability, and improved regulatory measures echoes across the nation as Zimbabweans strive to safeguard their well-being and make informed choices regarding food and beverage consumption.

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