Bitter truth about sweets sold in shops

Published : 10:40 am  May 21, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Lahiru Pothmulla
The increasing number of sweets brought into the country as hand held luggage being sold in the streets of Colombo has become a health risk, Colombo Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijeymuni  said yesterday.

Importing food items bypassing the standard procedure, which is to go through the Customs and the payment of taxes, was a health hazard as the imported food items were not subjected to screening.

According to the Food Labeling and Advertising of 2005, the details of food items such as the expiry date, manufactured date, distributor, batch number, code number and the importer/agent should be mentioned by printing, painting or sticking on the food item’s cover.

“No one knows the origin, quality or the genuine expiry dates of the foods when they were imported as hand luggage. This act may be  very well organized as there is a large number of such imported products in the local market specially in Pettah, Fort, Bambalapitiya and Wellawatta,” Dr. Wijayamuni said and added people tend to buy these products because of their lower price.

He said the Health Department had instructed health officers to inspect shops for these items during their daily routines. “These food items are found in small shops and not in super markets. The health officers are taking samples of these food items to the city analyst’s laboratory regularly for further examinations,” he said.

“He said the Health Department had instructed health officers to inspect shops for these items during their daily routines”

It had also noted that such details should not be distorted and mentioned in at least two national languages.

The Chief Medical Officer said the mentioning of the batch number was highly essential in an event when a food product was found contaminated so that the entire batch could be inspected and removed from the market.

Meanwhile, the Health Department seized Rs. 3 million worth of food items last week from six shops at Kadiresan Street and Gas Works Street in Pettah for selling them violating label regulations.

Food items such as chocolates, biscuits and cheese had been found among the seized stock. The area’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Subash Mendis said the food items had been imported from India, China, Pakistan and Middle East countries declaring as luggage items.

“The Municipality received information that there were a number of shops that sells food items violating label regulations. In the raid carried out in Pettah we found six such shops and filed cases against them,” Dr. Mendis said.