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Prohibition of inappropriate products inspectors

14 August 2009 1,686 views No Comment

OFFICERS from the Ministry of Health’s Food Control Unit have confiscated a number of food products from supermarket shelves because they have not met the requirements of the new Food Safety Act (No.10 of 2003).

Although the ministry has given local manufacturers, exporters and importers until October 14 to tidy up their dealings and ensure that food items they sell fall into the required standard, officers have been conducting inspections at some of the major supermarkets around Viti Levu.

Requirements include the presence of proper product labels, packaging information, information on food additives and nutrient supplements included.

Officers who carried out inspections in the Suva area recently found products such as mixed fruit cake, canned items like baked beans, sweet corn and fruit salad, jam, chocolate wafers, yogurt, bongo snacks, soup packs, peanut butter, canned tuna and sweet biscuits not properly labelled or damaged. Some were also past their expiry date but still sitting on supermarket shelves.

Media Liaison Officer Iliesa Tora said since this was the team’s first visit, respective managers had been notified about the steps they should take and briefed on the new regulation.

“We are assessing non compliance on a case basis depending on the level of risk. But from October 14 there will be no second chance.

“If supermarkets, importers, exporters and manufacturers do not follow the requirements then we will act,” Tora said.

Tora said the Ministry of Health would continue to inspect supermarkets and importers, leading up to the October deadline.

The October deadline will coincide with the National Food Summit planned for Suva.

“We have to act on this now because we see that a lot of items coming in from overseas do not meet the Act requirements and a lot of our people are getting sub-standard food, which in turn affects their health,” Tora said.

“Our diabetes figures continue to rise and we see a lot of children who are not healthy.
“The Ministry of Health has a responsibility to the people of Fiji and all players in the food industry also have a part to play.

“We have set a policy and that needs to be followed. We will police it to ensure that people get the right standard.”

Mr Tora said it was also important that members of the public understand what they should do when they go to supermarkets to purchase food items.

“They should look for proper labels, which should include the expiry date, manufacturing information, information on nutrition and food additives plus its weight. And off course the product must be properly priced,” he added.

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