Sunday, April 21, 2024

No truth to claim of unfit food

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PORT OF SPAIN – President of the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago has dismissed statements from the Joint Select Committee (JSC) hearing on Food Fraud that imported chicken meat being sold in supermarkets is unfit for human consumption.

According to Dr Yunus Ibrahim, the framework set out by the Ministry of Health determines what is good and passable for consumption.

Ibrahim, told the Newsday newspaper that the statement made by Poultry Association president Robin Phillips that imported chicken meat is only fit as pet meat – was made in an attempt to push the local chicken market.

Ibrahim noted that imported meat is frozen is labelled with production dates, pack dates and best by dates. And no supermarket is in the habit of accepting any goods from any supplier that is outside of those dates,” he stressed.

“For people to actually think that supermarkets are poisoning the consumers is really an unfair statement, especially when it is we are not in the habit of importing our product, we get it from suppliers. And most of the market is taken up by local supply any how,” he said.

He explained that frozen foreign chicken products are from large companies like US based Tyson and they are reputable brands that trade on the stock exchange markets and do not sell expired food.

“There are valid brands of frozen chicken,” he added. “It is not in the best interest of anyone to be selling that type of chicken.” In his report to the JSC on Friday, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat made reference to “food laundering” where chicken frozen for as long as five years in the United States was being exported and sold as “fresh poultry”.

Rambharat, told the Newsday that agricultural products coming into the twin island republic including frozen chicken, are not being physically examined or tested by authorities. He explained that for the importation of meat products, the Customs and Excise Division only looks at documentation and the Chemistry Food and Drug Division (CFDD) only looks for proof that it was produced at a certified plant.

“What we are finding out is that nobody looks at the physical product. No one is sampling or testing,” he revealed.

Former Trade Minister Vasant Bharath, in weighing in on the issue said the matter had been ongoing for some time and recalled that during his tenure he sought to bring the CFDD under the Trade Ministry but this was resisted and they “have almost been a law unto themselves”.

He said the division has not been doing its job and the Customs and Excise Division is not being vigilant enough and systems need to be made more efficient. (CMC)

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