Tuesday, January 6, 2015
TFDA: Controlling imported counterfeit food brands a difficult task indeed
Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) has admitted to have been overwhelmed by the control of illegal importation of the counterfeit lactating infant formula which are still on sale in local market. TFDA’s Director of Food and Drugs Raymond Wigenge confirmed on Wednesday last week in Dar es Salaam that, despite having technical experts an effective control of such products has become impossible due to the presence of numerous porous borders in the country. He said in a telephone interview that, his organisation encounters lots of difficulties to control illegal influx of the consignments, and that are calling for help from the general public to help trace the routes that could enable prevent access of such products in the local market. “We are experiencing lots of problems in our operation to curb with the illegal importation and we fail to know how these products enter the market”, he s aid while insisting for a joint concerted efforts from the general public in order to win the fight. He noted that, his organization has destroyed a number of counterfeit infant formula brands found on sale in local market, and about 60 percent of the bulk consignment has been destroyed for the last two months. He said that, although they have applied more efforts to remedy the situation, still some unscrupulous traders have been impervious and tend to collude with unfaithful officials at the border posts who render their efforts ineffective. Last year, this paper reported the trend of importation of cooking oil which do not have sufficient vitamins, contrary to the policies laid down by the TFDA and the authorities cautioned traders to abide by the newly established policies which starts effectively this year 2015. However, he also blamed some local traders who collude with other businessmen of the supplying countries who do not abide by the International Code of Marketing (ICM) introduced jointly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF in May 1980. Elaborating more about the ICM, he noted that, each member country Tanzania included signed the pact to abide by the regulations in 1994 and this was reviewed in 2011, a factor that most countries have not applied.
The pact that Tanzania signed guaranteed instructions should be given on a product on sale in two languages, that is by Kiswahili and English languages in order for it to qualify to be sold in the country a factor that most traders including suppliers and importers do not comply with. The ICM has its significance for the development of a child growth by insisting use of infant formula. In addition to that, it recognizes that the health of infants and young children cannot be isolated from the health and nutrition of women. It also recognizes that, breastfeeding is a way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants that it forms a unique biological and emotional basis for the health of both mother and child. TFDA’s boss was contacted after having carried a survey on the product and found out that, the prices have increased by 40 percent for S.26 Gold brand of infant formula which contains a highly nutritious food vitamins in it. Currently the product is fetched at between. Sh. 29,000 and Sh. 30,000O from Sh. 18,000/- as it was being sold two months ago before the suspension of the product by the government after having seen that, cheating on the quality of the product is not in line with ICM regulations. Other brands which have shown a tremendous increase in price are the Lactogen baby formula No 1 and 2 and NAN brand No. 1 and 2 respectively. The two different brands are sold in small tins at Sh. 26,000 each from Sh. 16,000 as they were sold before, a move which has demoralized lactating mothers. Interviewed traders in various parts in the city suburbs have said that, the price rise is due to the whole sale price increase from where they make bulk purchase, and clarified that, this has been exacerbated by the shortage of the products in the market. Last week TFDA’s spokesperson, Ms Gaudencia Simwanza was quoted by the media as saying that, mothers should look for brands whose labels have been written in Kiswahili and English, which should be the number one indication that the product is genuine. According to her, the authority has since warned people to be wary of the brand, which they can easily identify through its labeling and urged mothers to be very careful when buying powdered milk for their babies.