Stale food products placed under scanner in Colombo

Government authorities in Sri Lanka blame sellers for unscrupulous practices while sellers accuse authorities of corruption as Colombo markets get flooded with expired food products.

About 100,000kgs of potatoes, 1,000kgs of dried fish and 48,000kgs of onions unfit for human consumption were detected just last week by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) in Colombo, Kurunegala and Gampaha, reported the Sunday Times.
 
About 1,500kg of fungi-ridden grapes, 10,000kg of apples, 50,000kgs of oranges and an additional 34,000kgs of potatoes were seized by Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).
 
Beside, PHIs uncovered a pepper racket where sellers extracted oil from the pepper and mixed the leftover residue with a high-grade product. 
 
Several Pettah wholesale merchants were also taken to courts over incorrect labeling varieties of rice.
 
CMC’s Chief of the Public Health Department Pradeep Kariyawasam said that these bad food items end up in bakeries, roadside eateries and even in five star hotels.
 
“I have seen some bad products ending up at five star hotels when hotel supply officers purchase bad produce which are then supplied to the kitchen,” Kariyawasam added.
 
Kariyawasam said that reports of food poisoning have also been on the rise due to use of stale food items such as potatoes beginning to sprout and go green and containing deadly toxin compounds which could carry serious health risks.
 
“But most people only report food poisoning when they get typhoid, not when they start vomiting or get diarrhea,” he pointed out.
 
In raids on Colombo and Dambulla in North Central Province warehouses, a CAA official said that the Authority had discovered tons of tons of outdated food products.
 
Though there is no apparent reason, CAA Acting Deputy Director Asela Bandara offered the festive season as an explanation for the increase in outdated produce.
 
When the stocks were released, the food items had already gone bad possibly during the December holiday season as offices were closed and some stocks get held up at clearance points, said Bandara, adding that they assume businessmen started selling the bad stocks anyway otherwise it would have been a huge loss for them.
 
Kariyawasam said that the authorities are destroying the seized stocks by disposing them at CMC garbage dumping sites. 
 
Some people go to the dumping sites to collect disposed vegetables to resell them to local stores, according to media reports.
 
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