Certification is crucial to product and consumer safety

South Africa is currently gripped by one of the most severe outbreaks of Listeriosis which has been traced to the production of processed meat and products. The World Health Organization has described this outbreak as the largest ever recorded globally.

While hundreds of people have been affected, some of whom have lost their lives, this outbreak will have untold reputational and financial consequences for the brands involved.

It is precisely because of the human and financial costs that there is a focus on product safety standards, testing of measures put in place to adhere to standards and inspection to ensure compliance and certification.

In South Africa, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications is mandated to protect the interests of South Africans by developing and ensuring compliance with compulsory specifications and technical regulations while the National Consumer Commission is responsible for publishing consumer alerts and prohibition notices.

In very simple terms, the product certification process involves product testing and, often, the ongoing assessment of the manufacturing site to ensure that the product continues to comply with a nominated standard. A strong and reliable Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) process contributes to corporate competitiveness and reputation, and more importantly, consumer safety.

An efficient process can also help to increase productivity while helping local manufacturers comply with the global standards.

  • The testing phase comprises a vital quality check on consumer products, which includes measuring the risk of contamination across a wide range of consumer goods.
  • The inspection phase includes facility inspections to ascertain whether certified products produced are identical, within accepted manufacturing tolerances, to the sample against which the product certification was granted. Inspection steps include initial production inspection, during-process inspection, final random inspection and packing supervision.
  • The certification phase is the issuance of a certificate of compliance based on the findings of the other two phases.

UL’s expertise lies in all stages of the value chain of product safety, including the setting of Standards, Testing, Inspection and Certification. In forthcoming blogs we will explore each of the stages of the value chain necessary to ensure product safety. We will also learn how UL supports innovation while enhancing the safety and security of people, the communities in which we live and work, the products that we use and our shared environment.