Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 12, 2008

More checks to safeguard food

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:50 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will step up checks to ensure that festive foodstuff from China is safe for consumption.
Director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said state health departments will be told to send out their officers next week to carry out more checks on all food, especially those from China.
“We will tell the states what to focus on,” he said.
Food found to have breached regulations in the past would come under specific scrutiny.
They include mandarin oranges and mushrooms for pesticide residue, dace fish for malachite green, waxed duck, preserved fruits and vegetables, seaweed for heavy metals and honey for antibiotics.
For domestic products, inspectors will target meat for banned substances such as beta agonist, expired food products and labelling.
Any suspected food product would be seized, Dr Ismail said.
Food found to have contravened the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985 would either be destroyed or returned to the country of origin.
In the past, honey, oyster sauce and dried mushrooms were among products from China that were on the food alert list in Malaysia.
Past Health Ministry data showed that pesticide residue was detected in dried mushrooms on four occasions last year.
Drug residue was found in honey samples and the cancer-causing agent 3-MCPD was found in oyster sauce.
From January to October last year, 32 Chinese products were placed under the ministry’s Food Safety Information System level five alert, where products are held, tested and released.
Other products included frozen eels, seaweed, frozen royal red prawns, shitake mushrooms and salted turnips. All other China-imported food items were put on level four alert, which requires examination.
“So far, there have been no major problems,” Dr Ismail said.
Checks are expected to continue until the end of February at entry points and premises nationwide.
Malaysia imports US$680mil (RM2.3bil) worth of food items from China yearly.

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