International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) Guyana Ltd, the local distributor of Lailac Infant Milk is continuing to challenge a decision made by the Government Analust-Food and Drug Analyst Department (GA-FDD) to recall the product.
In a series of correspondence beginning on February 11, 2016 and ending on the April 7, 2016 GA-FDD instructed IPA to “with immediate effect remove from our local market Lailac Infant Milk”.
On April 28 in an invited comment, Minister in the Ministry of Public Health Dr Karen Cummings told Stabroek News that she had been informed that both doctors and mothers have been complaining about the milk.
“I have been advised that while it is labelled milk it should not be labelled as such since it is fortified with vegetable oil and not milk fats. Further it is made in France but not sold in France. We have adopted the standard that any product to be distributed in Guyana must be used in the country where it is produced,” she explained.
According to the correspondence signed by Director of GA-FDD Marlan Cole the importer has been unable to provide evidence that the product is freely sold and distributed in the country in which it is produced, a condition necessary to enable compliance with Food and Drug Regulation (13) of 1977 and the product is labelled infant milk though in the production process vegetable oils were used to replace milk fat in contravention of Codex Alimentarius 1986, a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and other recommendations relating to foods, food production, and food safety.
IPA has however provided copies of a letter dated March 14, 2016 which purports to provide the department with a “free sale certificate.” According to this document issued under the name of the French Ministry of Agriculture “the product in conformity with regulation (EC) No 178/2002 can be placed on the French market and in the other member states of the European Union and be exported in the non-EC Member States.” It goes on to note that the certificate can only be used for exportation outside the EU.
The company maintains that LaiLac is a regional brand name for products manufactured by the French Company Nutribio.
IPA Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Singh speaking with Stabroek News yesterday said that the product Lailac Milk is distributed in France under the name Nutrilac.
“I have a free sale certificate which shows that the product can be distributed in France. It doesn’t contravene any laws. Lailac is just the brand it is marketed under in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East”, he stressed.
However, Cole speaking with Stabroek News last week had said that LaiLac is not and cannot possibly be sold in France as milk.
“Our regulations clearly state that the product must be free distributed in the country of production. That product is not sold in France. No other Caribbean country has Lailac Milk. It is not milk,” he maintained
Cole has based his conclusion on a reading of the product’s label which shows that the product is labelled infant milk though in the production process vegetable oils were used to replace milk fat.
“When someone hears Milk they think of an animal product. Soy Milk or Almond Milk clearly tells you that there is no animal product there. Laillac doesn’t do this,” Cole said.
IPA however contends that Lailac Infant Milk is a milk-based baby formula.
“All milk based baby formulas are made with cow’s milk, vegetable oils, vitamins, minerals and usually fortified with iron. The vegetable oil is used to provide fat calories. This is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” IPA says in a letter dated February 15, 2016.
The company is also contending that they have not been officially informed of any complaints about the quality of the product.
GA-FDD has said that they have received “a plethora of complaints” and have removed tins of the milk from Public Health Centres across the country. However IPA has said that to date they have not received “a single complaint in writing.”
“We have a contract with states that as the distributor we should be informed first of any complaint so that we can address it with the Manufacturer,” they said. Asked if Cole’s letters could not be considered notification in line with the contract requirements, IPA stated that it is the Material Management Unit which must give this notification not the GA-FDD. Stabroek News was told that the GA-FDD has been notified of complaints made by the Materials Management Unit of the Ministry of Public Health regarding batches of the infant milk