Containers from Canada with ‘substandard’ food denied entry into Guyana
-legal action to be taken by Gov’t Analyst against importer
Four containers of assorted food items which were imported from Canada were denied entry into Guyana by the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) and the department is preparing to institute legal proceedings against the importer, an East Coast Demerara businessman.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon via a press release issued by the Department.
The importer is Faizal Asif Iqbal Alli of Lot 83 Mon Repos Housing Scheme, ECD.
The release said that a decision was made to extract and examine the items from the containers following several consumer complaints, “many” attempts by the department’s inspectors to conduct inspections and locate several bonds operated by Alli and against the backdrop of allegations of alleged malpractices perpetrated by Alli.
The release stated that detailed examinations and sampling of the container’s contents were carried out on 25th October and 30th October, 2019 during which several findings were unearthed.
These include: Expiry dates 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 containers void of labeling details; all suspected to be expired or short dated, expiry dates were removed on other products and extended using a date marking machine, most, if not all items of food were close dated with less than 75% of the shelf life remaining before importation and some items were labelled with misleading information e.g. Acetic Acid was labelled as “White Vinegar”.
The containers, according to the release were refused entry in keeping with art II Section 6. (1) of the laws of Guyana Food and Drug Act Chapter 34:0 and as required by regulation Part 1. 11. (3) of the Food and Drug Regulation.
It further stated that inspections will be “urgently” carried out at retail premises across the country since two of containers bearing substandard items were electronically released from the port of entry without the department’s consent or approval.
“Inspectors subsequently visited Mr Alli premises …and reported that none of the items could (be) located,” the release added.
“The Department will now exchange communication and details of this practice 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,” it added.
When Stabroek News spoke to Alli last evening at his business premises, he said he is being penalized for something he has no knowledge of.
The businessman said for all the years he has been in business he has been providing items countrywide and he has never received any complaints from any of his customers.
“…Nobody never complain. I have tons of customers,” he said.
Rather, he said whenever there are reports of expired products, an exchange is done and he disposes of them.
Alli also said that he only has one bond which he operates and not several as is being claimed by the department.
The Department said that legal proceedings will now be instituted by its prosecutor against Alli for allegedly knowingly or deliberately facilitating the importation and release of substandard articles of food to be used by the general populace of Guyana.
Details of this practice, the release said will be shared at the department’s National Food Safety and Control Committee Meeting (NFSCCM) which will be hosted on 12th November.
Inspectors, will also be tasked to carry out detailed inspections and sensitization in their respected regions across the country.