We call on the Malaysian Health Ministry to improve the efficiency
of monitoring food quality in the country in addition to the new
tracing system of food production
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw
The day before yesterday, Chua Jui Meng said that the tracing system
was needed to face the possibility that the United States would impose
product tracing requirements for exporting food to that country. This
anticipation is necessary. We hope that the system will be efficient.
After 911 in 2001, there have been measures to curb bio-terrorism. Chua
used the launching of the National Food Safety Policy to make known his plan
of action, using information and communication technology (ICT) for food
tracing. Apparently, this will be implemented by 22 governmental and
non-governmental agencies at over 30 import points.
Last year, Malaysia imported and exported food worth RM12.4 million and
exported RM7.6 billion respectively. We are net importer of food, including
raw materials for feed meal.
If the system can ensure safe food, then it will be worthwhile. On the
other hand, the Food Control Quality Division has yet to improve on its
supervision of food such as vegetables, fish, meat and fruits. For instance,
we are concerned about the use of insecticides, herbicides, antibiotics and
beta-agonist. How safe are the imported mangoes or domestic vegetables?
Although the Minister has repeatedly highlighted the action taken on the
use of the banned substances like beta-agonist, we can see that the
substance is still used to produce lean meat. For over two decades, we have
broached the issue of beta-agonist. The drug affects health. But, the
problem is unresolved. Is the coordination between the Veterinary
Department, Agriculture Ministry, and the Health Ministry good enough?
Every year, the Food Quality Control Division spends over RM20 million to
monitor various types of food. Nevertheless, its ways of food monitoring at
various stages have left much to be desired.
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw,
DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong