Jul 13 , 2019

The recent ban on processed food products by the Food & Drug Authority (FDA) pushed the total number of items banned to 103 in the current fiscal year.

Last week the Authority banned 57 processed food products under eight categories. The banned food types include 15 brands of candy; three honey and 11 table salt brands; eight peanut butter and two edible oil brands. Seven types of baby food; five brands of Vimto, a sweet tonic beverage; and six types of vinegar were also banned from the market.

The ban was triggered, because the products exhibited no descriptions about their production or expiry dates, level of nutrients, nor where the product was processed or by whom, according to the Authority.

Hayat and Abet table salts; Desta and Abbysina peanut butter; Adeya Abeba and Qemer oils; Misale and Elemo baby foods; and Deko Vimto, Zagol and Viking vinegar are among the banned food items.

For instance, some salt packages contain no indication of what the iodine content is, according to Samson Abraham, head of public relations at the Authority.

Ahead of the ban, the Authority had conducted a four-week survey by its inspectors at shops and supermarkets across the city.

Notices have been distributed to consumers not to use food products that have no labels on the packages that describe its origin, nutrition level, production and expiry dates and other necessary indicators, according to Samson.

The Authority has ordered the producers, distributors and retailers in all business locations to remove the products from the shelf within a given time period and has instructed inspection bodies at every branch of the Authority to follow up with the enactment.

In order to trace the producers, the products should have labels that show the details of addresses, product content, production and expiry dates, according to the Authority's requirement.

The first thing to assure is that packages fulfill labeling requirements, according to Yilma Mengistu, director of standards at the Agency.

"If the product has fulfilled the standards of labeling and packaging, then the quality issues can be raised," he said.

Aynadis Tamene (PhD), lecturer and microbiologist at Addis Abeba University's School of Food Science & Nutrition, agrees with the measures taken by the Authority.

There must be no ambiguity, especially on the industrially-processed and packed food products in identifying the origin, the nutrients, the production and expiry date of the product, according to him.

“Considering table salt, adding iodine during salt production is necessary for health, especially for the cognitive development of children," he said.

The iodine content should be set within the range of the World Health Organization's standards and adopted by the Ethiopian Standards Agency, according to him. The expert also advises to carefully select peanut butter, as it is prone to a fungus called Aflatoxin, which is believed to cause cancer.

Aynadis also suggests, besides controlling deceptive trade practices, that the Authority has to focus on regular awareness creation programmes concerning the negative effects for producers, processors and end users by using media outlets such as television for best result.

Last month, the Authority took the same measure in banning 46 food products including some edible oils, baby foods and table salt brands for not having labels that provide information about the products.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 13,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1002]

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