THE metro’s former MMC for Public Health, councillor Lance Grootboom, recently received an award for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s food blitz initiative.The award, given by the South African Institute of Environmental Health, was to show appreciation to Grootboom for the project, launched during his tenure as MMC for Public Health. The project resulted in the Minister of Environmental Affairs creating guidelines to all municipalities to conduct food blitz operations. This was to ensure that food handling businesses comply with environmental health regulations.Grootboom said that the project was sparked by the outbreak of listeriosis in the country during 2018, which affected Nelson Mandela Bay. “I wanted to ensure that the spread of listeriosis and food-borne diseases was prevented. “Also businesses, in terms of waste management, are properly monitored due to a lot of dumping of business waste in CBD areas and communities,” Grootboom said. The first food blitz was launched on June 27, 2018 in Korsten, where various businesses were inspected. During September, the municipality won the National Environmental Award for best environmental project of all municipalities for the food blitz project.“In case of non-compliance with prescribed regulations, shops were closed and fines issued. In cases where shops partially complied, notices were issued to comply within a prescribed time.” Grootboom said that three blitzes were conducted during his tenure in the Korsten, Central and Uitenhage CBD areas. However, the blitz initiative has continued, since the Minister of Environmental Affairs had made it obligatory for all municipalities. “The food blitz initiative brought unity among different directorates previously working in silos. For example, waste management, environmental health and safety and security (united), which led to the success of this initiative,” he said.Grootboom said he felt honoured and blessed for winning the award. “The fact that my initiative has influenced national legislation and made it compulsory for all municipalities, is deeply appreciated. But it could not have been done without the great management and leadership of Dr Patrick Nodwele, director of environmental health, and his team, including all stakeholders who participated,” he said.