The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) on Wednesday said it has denied entry to four containers of food items by Faizal Asif Iqbal Alli of Lot 83 Mon Repos Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara.
The action follows several consumers’ complaints and many attempts by the department’s inspectors to conduct inspections and locate several bonds operated by Mr. Alli and against the backdrop of allegations of alleged malpractices perpetrated by the importer in question.
The containers were denied entry after the department was able to check samples of the items on October 25 and October 30.
The inspectors found that:
- Expiry dates were deliberately removed and extended with a date marking machine. The damaged area on boxes where the original date was removed is now concealed using a sticker bearing a Canadian flag
- Some products were deliberately removed from the original container or packages and placed into bulk container void of labeling details; all suspected to be expired or short dated.
- Most, if not all items of food were close dated with less than 75% of the shelf life remaining before importation.
- Some items were labelled with misleading information e.g. Acetic Acid was labelled as “White Vinegar”.
Based on the Inspectors’ report, the items were deemed to be substandard and the reason for denying entry of the containers was shared officially with the Controller of Customs and the Importer Mr. Alli.
Inspections will now be urgently be carried out at retail premises across Guyana since two (2) of the containers bearing substandard items were electronically released from the port of entry without the Department’s consent or approval on Friday last. Inspectors subsequently visited Mr Alli premises on Monday and reported that none of the items could not have been located.
The Department will now exchange communication and details of this practice with the with the Canadian Food Exporters Association, which attested to the wholesomeness of the products on a Health Certificate that was used to facilitate the trade of the items from Canada to Guyana.
Details of this practice and the affected products will be shared at the Department’s National Food Safety and Control Committee Meeting (NFSCCM) which will be hosted on 12th November, where members (Inspectors) will be asked to carry out detail inspections and sensitization in their respected regions across Guyana, since this practice is suspected to have been ongoing.
Legal proceeding will now be instituted by the Department’s prosecutor against Mr.Alli for knowingly or deliberately facilitating the importation and release of substandard articles of food to be used by the general populace of Guyana.
“Consumers and retailers are therefore asked to be very vigilant and pay attention to the labels of products and to ensure dates are not tampered with.
“In addition, consumers are being advised to ensure they make purchase of items of food that are properly labelled in English, have clearly written date marks, with a complete address of manufacture and with font sizes that are clearly legible to the naked eye.”