Since last Friday, 1 February, council’s 16 environmental health offices has been hosting free monthly training sessions for informal food vendors. The vendors who successfully complete an assessment will receive a Certificate of Attendance. The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Health Department took 60 food vendors through their paces on the principles and practices of food safety and hygiene on Tuesday 29 January. This was the first engagement in a new undertaking, aimed at ensuring compliance with new national regulations. These stipulate training in the principles and practices of food safety and hygiene, and City Health has put free training on the menu for informal food vendors.The new regulations were published by the national Department of Health in June last year. They require that any person in charge of a food premises must be qualified, or otherwise trained, in the principles and practices of food safety and hygiene, and that the training is accredited or conducted by an inspector. This means the gogo on the street corner who sells amagwinya and her employees, or those who handle the food, must also undergo this training.The regulations also make it mandatory for training records to be kept and routinely updated, and made available to an inspector on request.“Cape Town, like many other cities around the world, has a burgeoning informal food sector,” said Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee member for Community Services and Health. “The new regulations are in the interest of public safety and we fully support them.”However, the City is also mindful of the fact that many informal traders may not be in a position to contract a service provider that offers accredited training, he said. “It is for this reason that our environmental health offices will roll out free training sessions for vendors across the metropole.”The Basic Food Hygiene training sessions will focus on a number of aspects, including legislation, hygiene, health hazards, food safety and cleanliness, among others.Late last year, council launched its Livewell Challenge in Nomzamo, which looks at nutrition and what constitutes a healthy diet without breaking the bank (“Keep fit to keep disease at bay”, City Vision, 1 November 2018). The challenge is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of chronic lifestyle diseases, and how diet and exercise can mitigate the risks of contracting such diseases or managing them, Badroodien explained. “We believe it is important that our food vendors have a good understanding of these issues and start considering how they can play a role in building healthier communities, and help their business to flourish,” he said.The department will recruit food vendors in their areas to attend the monthly training sessions, but vendors are also encouraged to contact their local environmental health office for more information or to request training. V The Strand environmental health office is located on the corner of Main and Fagan streets and can be contacted on 021 444 5032.