Community Extension students take part in an international food summit

Xoli, standing, and the students taking part in the summit online

At least six Department of Community Extension students were part of an international summit that discussed food safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The summit, which took place on 3 November 2020, put a spot light on food security. Participants from various organisations that deal with food conducted presentations on food safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The participants from MUT, Lindelani Ndawule, Zinhle Khumalo, Nonhlanhla Vezi, Sinethemba Miya, all Advanced Diploma in Community Extension students; Londiwe Zondi, an intern in the department; and Nobathwa Ndobe, a graduate with an Advanced Diploma in Agricultural Extension and Community Development, have learnt about the advanced system of ensuring food safety in developed countries.

Nobathwa pointed out that the unintended outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic on food safety is that people are now forced to improve hygiene when handling food. Nonhlanhla observed that the food business now has to re-adjust how they deal with food products, “in terms of packaging, processing, marketing and distribution, as well as the production schedules”.  Sinethemba said she learnt about measures which the food industry is using to mitigate food insecurity in spite of the pandemic. Sinethemba said she also learnt that there was not a lot of food wasted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xolile Mkhize, senior lecturer in the department, said the summit offered students a chance to look at what they are studying holistically. “The presenters at the summit are international experts in food safety. They talked about food across various disciplines,” said Xolile. The presenters were from industry, law, government, international agencies such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and public health. Xolile said the students got to understand the value of what they are studying. The students now understand the impact of Covid-19 across the whole value chain, and the trends of food security, or lack thereof, said Xolile.  The summit also discussed food safety risks in relation to COVID-19.