Cabinet of ministers has approved a series of measures to ensure the safety of the consumer food imported to the country following the report submitted by the cabinet sub-committee appointed to probe the contamination of imported milk food.
The Cabinet at its meeting held on August 15 appointed a Cabinet sub- committee headed by Senior Minister for Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekara, Minister and consisting of six other ministers to examine the contamination of imported milk powder with the agrochemical dicyandiamide (DCD) and Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination with Clostridium Botulinum bacteria.
Based on the recommendations made in the report the Cabinet has decided to implement several measures to ensure the safety of the food products.
The Cabinet has approved to improve the capacity of local laboratories to meet the emerging demands including those at the Medical Research Institute and Industrial Technical Institute (ITI).
They recommended purchasing a Liquid Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS/MS) for the ITI due to the claim by the New Zealand scientists that that ITI did not have the right equipment to test the DCD in milk powder samples.
The Ministers approved inspection of Complex and Advanced Food Manufacturing Plants in Sri Lanka by the experts under the Chief Food Authority to ensure good manufacturing practices.
The government is advised to launch an island-wide programme by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders to promote breast feeding and consumption of locally produced liquid milk.
The Ministry of Health has been directed to publish a detailed newspaper advertisement in simple language to inform the public on the background of the issue.
The Ministry is also required to introduce a system of labeling to identify the products free of DCD and Clostridium bacteria and safe for consumption and inform the public of the system to ensure that public is getting safe food.
The Ministers also directed the Chief Food Authority and the Consumer Affairs Authority to withdraw from the market imported milk products suspected to be contaminated with DCD as decided by that Authority.
Action to strengthen the capacity of the Food Authority in terms of staff and other facilities and to amend the Food Act to address the existing and emerging food safety issues effectually were other measures.
The Ministry of Health, the Consumer Affairs Authority and the Industrial Technology Institute are required to closely collaborate on the food safety issues.
Action will also be taken to introduce a methodology to carry out Food Safety Hazards Tests prior to clearance of goods by the Customs, jointly by the Sri Lanka Customs, the Medical Research Institute and the Industrial Technical Institute in keeping with international standards.