Retail outlets flouting order on repackaging powdered milk

With seasonal shopping for food having intensified significantly in the days leading up to Christmas, the Government Analyst Food & Drug Department (GA-FDD) this week issued yet another warning regarding standards associated with the sale of powdered milk on the local market.

The department warned that vendors who neglect to adhere to the prescribed standard run the risk of their product being “seized and confiscated.”

The GA-FDD’s most recent release reminds that the sale of milk powder in the manner described is in breach of the Food and Drug Act 1971 and the Food and Drug Regulation 1977 and that any person who sells powdered milk in unlabelled, transparent plastic bags is guilty of an offence.

 Wellington Street in front of Payless Variety Store
Wellington Street in front of Payless Variety Store

However, despite this latest warning regarding distributors and vendors repackaging and offering milk for sale without being in possession of a permit to repackage, checks made by this newspaper revealed that improperly packaged milk continues to be publicly displayed for sale in some of the city’s leading retail outlets.

According to Part II Section 7 and 8 of the Food and Drug Act Chapter 34:03 and Part II Regulation 18 (1) of the Food and Drug Regulation milk must be properly labelled, and when permitted repackaging must be done with supervision and under sanitary conditions.

Officials of the department have previously told this newspaper that they have no way of determining whether the packaged milk powder commonly sold in retail outlets including stalls at municipal markets have met those sanitary conditions.

In its recent release, the GA-FDD pointed out that among its reasons for the caution is the fact that unlabelled bags cannot provide verification of the true identity of the re-packager or that of the brand. Also, they stated that when milk is placed in clear transparent bags, it loses its nutritional value; that milk is often repackaged under insanitary conditions by unlicensed re-packagers; and that milk sold in this manner may be subjected to adulteration or mixing and that the true weight of milk offered for sale in this manner cannot be determined.

This newspaper understands, meanwhile, that there have been instances in which the GA-FDD has been unable to effectively inspect whether some consignments of evaporated milk imported into the country comply with labelling requirements, and that some theoretically unsafe and/or nutritionally compromised products have seeped through onto the local market. GA-FDD Director Marlon Cole has declined to confirm such assertions but has commented on what he says is the department’s lack of capacity in the areas of inspection and monitoring.

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