I thought it was football?

The bi-annual congress of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology in Durban was told on Wednesday that many of South Africa’s food manufacturers are failing to meet basic hygiene standards with the management often scrambling to ensure a spotless factory only when standard certification inspections are imminent.

And with the 2010 soccer World Cup just around the corner, it is high time that local food producers improved food safety levels in their factories to avert possible food poisoning disasters.

Rolf Uys, Manager of AIB International, was cited as saying that 45 percent of the factories his company had inspected over the past year had not met basic international food safety requirements, and 70 percent had less than desirable levels of food safety standards, adding,

"Some of the things I have seen this year were live insect activity in seven out of 10 silos inspected; cat droppings in a warehouse; urine in a fruit juice container; slime and psocids (tiny insects ) in water feed; the same buckets used for waste product and cleaning; and rodents blissfully living in warehouse wall panels.

"Factories are being cleaned once every three years just in time for the audit inspection. There is good preparation for the audit, but the attention is not on an entrenched food safety programme. … There is an attitude in the factory of ‘we’ll clean when we feel like it because the legislation is only providing a guideline’, and of ‘let’s see what we can get away with.’ A lot of factories are saying ‘we’ll just take our chances’ and dish out vouchers to customers who complain, but this is not working any more."

If this is what the auditors are willing to say publicly, wonder what they really find?