Im­port and sale of all forms of sea­weeds banned

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Wangmo

The Bhutan Agri­cul­ture & Food Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (BAFRA) un­der the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture & Forests had banned the im­port and sale of forms of sea­weeds with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

As per the press re­lease from the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Forests the ban has been ini­ti­ated to en­sure food safety, since sea­weeds prod­ucts were de­tected with high level of in­or­ganic arsenic and cad­mium above the maxi- mum residue lim­its (MRL) per­mit­ted in food. Th­ese heavy met­als have been iden­ti­fied as haz­ardous for pub­lic health. There­fore, all food es­tab­lish­ments and in­di­vid­u­als im­port­ing food prod­ucts are no­ti­fied to stop im­port and sale of sea­weeds and ex­tend their full co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port in im­ple­ment­ing this ban.

The reg­u­la­tory and quar­an­tine in­spec­tors of BAFRA in all the twenty dzongkhags will strictly mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this no­ti­fi­ca­tion. The sea­weed prod­ucts which are al­ready in the mar­ket shall be seized and de­stroyed in the pres­ence of BAFRA of­fi­cials or the im­porter may also re-ex­port the sea­weed prod­ucts, un­der in­ti­ma­tion with BAFRA.

Arsenic is a met­al­loid - a nat­u­ral ele­ment that is not ac­tu­ally a metal but which has some of the prop­er­ties of a metal. It is a nat­u­ral com­po­nent of the Earth’s crust, gen­er­ally found in trace quan­ti­ties in all rock, soil, wa­ter and air. How­ever, con­cen­tra­tions may be higher in cer­tain ar­eas due to ei­ther nat­u­ral con­di­tions or hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

Arsenic can ex­ist in many dif­fer­ent chem­i­cal forms in com­bi­na­tion with other el­e­ments. Some forms are in­or­ganic, which do not con­tain car­bon, and oth­ers are or­ganic, which al­ways con­tain car­bon.

Long-term ex­po­sure to arsenic in drink­ing wa­ter can cause can­cer in the skin, lungs, blad­der and kid­ney. It can also cause other skin changes such as thick­en­ing and pig­men­ta­tion. The like­li­hood of ef­fects is re­lated to the level of ex­po­sure to arsenic and in ar­eas where drink­ing wa­ter is heav­ily con­tam­i­nated, th­ese ef­fects can be seen in many in­di­vid­u­als in the pop­u­la­tion.

BAFRA has tem­po­rar­ily banned im­port of chill­ies in the coun­try in June this year as three va­ri­eties of im­ported chill­ies was found con­tain­ing pes­ti­cide. The lab­o­ra­tory re­port re­vealed a pres­ence of pes­ti­cides which are mod­er­ately toxic and its use is not per­mit­ted in the coun­try.

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