Following a surveillance and inspection exercise to ensure quality protein products fit for human consumption with the upcoming Christmas season, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) uncovered 483 pounds of expired imported duck meat from Culver Duck Farms in the United States.
The inspection and surveillance was a joint exercise with GLDA and the Ministry of Health. An investigation found that the products, which expired in September last, were in stock at a supermarket on the East Coast of Demerara.
It was further revealed that the importer of the products, which arrived in Guyana in November 2019, had no permit. The products were being stored at the Wieting and Richter Ice Factory, Water Street, Georgetown.
“The product expired in September…. in most countries the supermarket would have already put notice that this thing was coming to an end but we found there was no such notice and the product was displayed and sold just like in the beginning when it was fresh.
“…the ethics of the business is in question to be selling expired products,” Dr Grayson Halley, Chief Executive Officer of the GLDA, told reporters on Monday.
This breach, he explained, can have some far reaching effects for health as well as the economy of the country.
“So far, this has been one of our major finds where these duck products are being sold at one of our major supermarkets in Guyana which we don’t want to name at this point,” Dr Halley said.
GLDA along with the Health Ministry in the coming weeks is hoping to visit all supermarkets in the country to inspect all protein products.
“What we have embarked on is an exercise whereby we visit each supermarket, especially the larger chain supermarkets, because they would see an influx of increase traffic during this Christmas season. So we want to make sure that what our consumers are buying is wholesome and fit for human conception,” Dr Halley explained.
Importers and supermarkets found culpable can face legal ramifications such as a fine and will be subjected to intense monitoring. According to the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dwight Walrond, the product was also found without a permit.
“We never issued a permit to that chain or for them to import duck meat,” Dr Walrond explained.
Meanwhile, the GLDA says it will be seeking to have 100% inspection for all livestock products being imported as Dr Walrond explained that in the past they would have only done 10% inspection for specific supermarkets or importers.
It was also revealed that complaints about the long wait for permits to be granted and issued does not happen at GLDA. The CEO explained that permits are issued within 24 to 72hrs.
An outbreak from duck viral epitasis disease in 2019 caused by smuggling completely destroyed the local duck industry where authorities and farmers had to slaughter 100% of the duck population.
Ever since the outbreak authorities have been working stringently to prevent any reoccurrence, especially since farmers are grappling with the effects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.