Court orders Food and Drug Dep’t to defend seizure of ‘Buiwick’ tuna

Having detained 2,000 cartons of ‘Buiwick’ tuna for its “misleading” labelling, the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Depart-ment (GA-FDD) will have to defend its decision to do so in the High Court.

A provisional order was granted against the GA-FDD Director Marlan Cole on Thursday by Justice Brassington Reynolds, who said the court was satisfied that enough evidence was provided by the applicant, Goolmohamad Rahaman, the proprietor of G Bacchus Enterprises.

The GA-FDD last Tuesday announced that the detained product was seen as trading on the well-known ‘Brunswick’ trademark, which is distributed by Beepats, and the exact address of the manufacturer had not been stated.

Three days after, Beepats issued a statement backing the decision to hold the goods. Beepats said, “The intercepted product was an obvious attempt to mislead and deceive Guyanese consumers who may have thought they were purchasing their regular Bruns-wick canned tuna.”

The packing for Brunswick Tuna, distributed by Beepats, is nearly identical to the Buiwick Tuna brand.

In an invited comment yesterday, Cole stated that everything done by the organisation was as prescribed by the Food and Drug Act, and emphasised that a product must have traceability, otherwise, people would be put at risk.

Cole said that the decision to have the goods detained were in the interest of consumer protection and safety and that the call was made based on a report from the inspector, which found the label to be “false, defective, and misleading”.

The GA-FDD will be represented by the Attorney General’s office in the matter.

Meanwhile, Rahaman told a press conference yesterday that the GA-FDD had requested documents to prove the authenticity of the items, including the certificate of analysis, certificate of health and the certificate of trading, all of which were provided.

Although the packaging for the two tuna products appear similar, with similar colour scheme and word placement, Rahaman argued that it was not an imitation product, and proceeded to point out differences, such as the fact that they are manufactured in separate places, carry different weights, and the Buiwick tuna is equipped with a pull-up lid for easy opening. Brunswick Tuna clearly states that it is a product of Thailand, while Buiwick is reportedly made in the People’s Republic of China.

According to Rahaman, the Buiwick tuna should cost $2,000 less per carton than the Brunswick brand.

Aside from the tuna, Rahaman complained that other goods have also been held, including cheese, tomato paste and oil. He further related that he is currently paying US$45 per container, four of which are currently lodged at the wharf.

Rahaman said no reasons were provided for the detention of the other goods.

According to Cole, however, although the cheese is purported to be from New Zealand, the documentation is from Malaysia. No word was given on the tomato paste, but Cole related that the oil had been cleared for distribution.

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