–Food & Drugs to investigate
A MANDARIN-LABELLED Fernleaf powdered milk has entered the Guyana market and is sparking concerns about where it originated, and whether it was approved for consumption by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD).
On Tuesday morning, one Telecia Dazzell posted a video and eight photos on Facebook showing a tin of Fernleaf milk powder sporting Chinese writing, which was reportedly bought from a stall at the Bourda Market.
The video, which was viewed more than 72,000 times, shows a woman returning the milk to the shop, after which an argument ensued. She indicated to the shopkeeper that she could not accept the product since the tin was dented and its label was in Mandarin.
“I cannot give that to my children! Look at this Fernleaf; there is Chinese writing here! It is not the original Fernleaf; it is not right selling people that!” the furious consumer told the shopkeeper.
“I am not giving my children that milk; y’all killing people out. You don’t even know what is in that milk,” she added.
After a brief exchange between her and the shopkeeper, it appears as if she was compensated.
Comments under the video immediately followed, with one person hastily remarking: “Guyanese vendors got some messed-up ways! Why he even arguing with the woman; it’s unsafe; nobody wants to consume anything from China-food-wise-because they’re killing people!!!!”
Others called for more scrutiny of products entering the country, which some opined might have been destined for another jurisdiction but ended up here.
When contacted last evening, GA-FDD Managing-Director Marlon Cole indicated that the matter will immediately engage his attention.
He explained that Massy Stores Guyana has sent an official request to the Department for products of that nature to enter the market for reconditioning.
“Massy had sent an official request for reconditioning of the label, because that’s what it is,” Cole said, adding:
“So I don’t know if they went ahead and imported them, or whether the milk powder in the video is from a different importer.”
He further explained that Massy had made the request after powdered milk destined for China ended up in the Caribbean.
He said that such requests for reconditioning are not uncommon, and are in keeping with the law, but it must be first approved by the FDD before the product can be imported.
The Food Safety Bill of 2016 stipulates that imported food which would constitute a contravention of the Act could be permitted into the country, solely for the purpose of relabelling or reconditioning as prescribed.
It further states that if the relabelling or reconditioning is not done within the prescribed time period, the importer shall export or destroy that food.
Should the importer fail to do so, the FDD then has the authority to do the necessary.
But as Cole reiterated, he does not know the origin of the specific product in the video and whether it was imported by Massy Stores or another importer.
“What I can say definitively,” he said, “is that Massy asked for the label to be reconditioned; and if that is the case, then it is all well and good. If it is another importer, then I cannot speak on that. So I have to look at the matter first thing tomorrow,” Cole assured this publication.