Eden District Municipal Health Services contributes to the success of the Knysna Oyster Festival 2016

Knysna was the proud host of the 33rd annual Oyster Festival during the period of 1 – 10 July 2016.  This spectacular occasion has once again proven itself to have grown into one of the biggest and most popular lifestyle and sporting events in South Africa.

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The program boasted more than one hundred sporting and social events over the ten day festival.  During the festival numerous food markets and gala events were held catering for people to indulge in a variety of culinary delights, of which the famous oysters remained the main attraction.

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According to statistics compiled by the Eden District Knysna Municipal Health office, more than 107 000 oysters were consumed by an estimated 74 000 visitors to Knysna during the 10-day period.

Role and interventions by the Eden Municipal Health Department

Eden officials at the Knysna Municipal Health office, prepared well in advance for this annual event, by planning and implementing a mitigation and monitoring work schedule before, during and after the festival, to minimize and address any public health issues that might arise. 

Food Control

  • Pre-festival inspections, as well as inspections during the event, were also undertaken at 184  informal and formal food premises, including daily inspections at Oyster Festival “Hot Spots “ and also the central Festival grounds.
  • Inspections were further undertaken at various oyster holding tanks in town, where thousands of oysters were kept under conditions prescribed by Eden District Health Section.
  • Sixteen batches of oyster samples were dispatched to the Merieux Nutriscience Laboratory in Cape Town for bacteriological analysis, before and during the Festival.
  • Fifteen of the abovementioned samples conformed to the prescribed requirements as stipulated under the Marine Food Regulations, Regulation 692 of 1977, promulgated under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetic and Disinfectant Act (Act 54 of 1972).
  • Drinking water (sachets) provided to the 7 000 athletes who participated in the Forest marathon, were analyzed and conformed to the prescribed requirements stipulated under the Bottled Water Regulations, Regulation 692 of 1997, promulgated under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act (Act 54 of 1972).

Water quality monitoring

  • Bacteriological water monitoring of the Knysna estuary was undertaken by sampling water at 14 identified sites in and around the estuary.
  • Sampling included sites which hosted recreational water-sports events related to the Festival.
  • Twelve of the above samples complied with the recreational standards prescribed by Department of Water Affairs.

Communicable disease outbreak 

  • A strict communication protocol regarding the report to the health authority for investigation, in the event of an elevated food-related gastro enteritis outbreak, was established between the Eden District Municipal Health Services and relevant Medical Health Care Providers, which included both the Private and Provincial Hospitals, General Practitioners and Pharmacies.
  • No gastro-related food illness was reported to the Eden District office by any health care providers during the 10-day period.

Mr James McCarthy, the Eden District Chief for Municipal Health Services in the Knysna area, confirmed that a huge contribution was made behind the scenes by Eden District Environmental Health Practitioners, to ensure that a high level of public health status was maintained during this extremely busy festive period. It also indicates the huge success that was achieved due to the interventions by Environmental Health Practitioners in the Knysna and surrounding areas.

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