Government bans sale of hot pies, roast chicken
Government specifically outlawed the sale of hot cooked food on Monday, with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, issuing a new regulation to that effect.
The new regulation stipulates that any food - but "excluding cooked hot food" - may be sold during the national state of disaster due to Covid19.
Woolworths and other retailers had been selling hot prepared food, including including rotisserie chickens, pies as well as bread baked in-store, during lockdown.
But Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel told journalists on Thursday that government’s position on selling hot prepared food was always “very clear”, and that retailers were not supposed to have hot food sections since the start of the national lockdown.
Woolworths, Shoprite and Checkers on Friday announced that they would stop selling hot prepared foods.
A spokesperson of the Shoprite Group, which includes Checkers, on Friday said that it will “immediately correct” any "misinterpretation" of the regulations in its stores.
Woolworths said that following Patel’s “communication” about the hot food counters, it would stop selling hot prepared food.
This was despite a legal opinion from Webber Wentzel which found that in terms of the previous regulations, Woolworths could continue selling "any item that can be consumed by a human being... it does not matter whether the item is raw, processed, frozen or cooked; nor does it matter whether it is healthy or unhealthy; nor does it matter whether it is luxury or not. Whatever the item is, it can be sold to consumers".
Woolworths will continue to sell frozen prepared food (for example frozen lasagna and pizza) and refrigerated prepared foods. Frozen prepared foods have not been banned by the new regulation.
While the state announced some easing in new lockdown regulations last week - hardware stores have been partially reopened for plumbers and electricians, for example – there has been no relaxation in food sales.