Man­dalay FDA lauds clam­p­down on food ad­di­tives

The Myanmar Times - - News - SI THU LWIN sithul­win@mm­times.com

THE Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion is at­tribut­ing a de­crease in po­ten­tially toxic food ad­di­tives to bi-weekly tests for chem­i­cal dyes in Man­dalay mar­kets.

In Fe­bru­ary, the FDA vowed to en­sure ined­i­ble chem­i­cal dyes and ad­di­tives meant for tex­tiles and clean­ing sup­plies stay out of food traded in the mar­kets. Tests con­ducted last year re­vealed food prod­ucts, es­pe­cially noo­dles and fish paste, con­tained dan­ger­ous sub­stances, such as the toxic chem­i­cals bo­rax and for­ma­lin.

In May, the FDA an­nounced as part of its 100-day plan that it would be con­duct­ing twice-weekly mar­ket tests with the goal of elim­i­nat­ing harm­ful ad­di­tives. As a first step in stamp­ing out the prac­tice, con­sumers were ed­u­cated about the risks and ven­dors were warned they could face fines.

“Start­ing on May 5, we bought food­stuffs to test for chem­i­cal dye from 44 mar­kets in Man­dalay in­clud­ing Zay Cho,” said U Kyaw Kyaw, deputy di­rec­tor of the FDA in Man­dalay. “Ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of our tests, we can see chem­i­cal dye is be­com­ing less com­mon. If the tests con­tinue, the mar­kets will be­come clear of chem­i­cal dyes.”

To be­gin with, the Man­dalay FDA of­fi­cials have con­cen­trated on test­ing fish and shrimp paste.

“At first, we found that over 15 per­cent of the tested mar­ket prod­ucts con­tained chem­i­cal dye,” said U Kyaw Kyaw. “But af­ter on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion and tests, we found that now only about 5pc of the prod­ucts con­tain chem­i­cal dyes.”

“Pre­vi­ously, for­ma­lin was put into bean curd as a preser­va­tive, but we are not see­ing it be­ing used to­day. Other food stuffs that con­tain dyes and ad­di­tives in­clude chilli pow­der, bam­boo shoots, roasted lablab beans and jalebi snacks,” he said.

The most com­mon pro­hib­ited chem­i­cals found in the ex­am­ined food­stuffs in­clude Or­ange II, a dye often used for gar­ments, and Rho­damine B, a dye and sus­pected car­cino­gen. Other ined­i­ble Deputy di­rec­tor FDA chem­i­cals found in the test­ing in­clude dyes Su­dan III and Au­ramine O.

Head of Man­dalay City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee’s mar­ket depart­ment U Za­yar Nyein said aware­ness cam­paigns have so far been con­ducted in 18 of the 44 mar­kets.

Food pro­duc­ers who con­tinue to put harm­ful ad­di­tives in the food will be named and shamed, he added, with the brands posted for pub­lic in­for­ma­tion.

In Fe­bru­ary, the Man­dalay FDA re­leased a list of 32 food brands that should not be con­sumed due to safety con­cerns. Com­pa­nies found to be us­ing tex­tile dyes can be pun­ished un­der sec­tion 28(a) of the Na­tional Food Law, which can re­sult in three years’ im­pris­on­ment, a K30,000 fine or both.

“The sellers say they are also ea­ger to be­come clear of chem­i­cal dye,” said U Za­yar Nyein.

Man­dalay ven­dors how­ever have com­plained that the test­ing process is not en­tirely fair, as they have faced losses over goods that were con­fis­cated with no re­im­burse­ment.

“If they want food­stuffs to be chem­i­cal dye-free, then they need to of­fer tech­ni­cal sup­port to food pro­duc­ers in the in­dus­try. We are just try­ing to sell food­stuffs con­ve­niently,” a food ven­dor who asked not to be named said.

– Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

‘Af­ter on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion and tests, we found that now only about 5pc of the prod­ucts con­tain chem­i­cal dyes.’

U Kyaw Kyaw

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