Can I bring my pet dog or cat into a food business, such as a shop, café or restaurant?

Updated on June 2, 2021

Generally speaking the answer is no, but there are some exceptions, including some at the discretion of the owner of the food business. The owner must have adequate procedures in place to prevent your mutts, pups and nobles from gaining access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored. You, in turn, must ensure that your dog is on leash and cannot compromise the business owners’ efforts at provided food safety procedures.

In South Africa, legislation defines that no animal (including any domestic pet but excluding service animals) is allowed at any food premises or any area where food is being prepared and served to the public. Food handling premises refers to any premises where food is being processed, either raw or unprocessed, handled, prepared, packed, displayed or served to the public in any serving area. The current regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and the transport of food (R962 of 23 November 2012), Reg 10 (i) framed under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) states the following in article 10:

“A person in charge of food premises shall ensure that:

  • (i) No animal, subject to the provisions of any law, is kept or permitted in any room or area where food is handled, except that
  • (ii) A guide dog who is accompanying a blind person may be permitted in the sales or serving area on the food premises”.

The law does not specifically prohibit domestic or companion animals such as our mutts, pups and nobles from being in the courtyard, open seating area or street seating area of a food premise. The current objective of the law is to ensure that dogs do not compromise food safety by having access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored. Access, therefore, to places such as kitchens and storerooms or shops, supermarkets or other places where food is on open display may not be permitted.

Access to customer dining areas of restaurants and bars could be permitted by the food business operator, at his or her discretion and provided:

  • Such access to customer dining areas is considered within the food safety management system in operation in the food business;
  • The dining areas are monitored;
  • Every effort is taken to ensure that food cannot be contaminated;
  • Dogs and other pets are kept under the control of the pet parents and guardians, and
  • Proper procedures are in place to deal with any contamination of the premises.
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