Officials Warn Consumers about Gift Basket Risks


The health authority has established a system for the inspection of expired goods mixed in markets in an effort to curb the growth in these products according to the regulations.

The sale of fake and expired goods mixed with other products is still a common occurrence in Vientiane, even though the health authorities carry out regular inspections, health officials said.

Before purchasing a product, consumers are advised to observe for degradation of quality, possible imitation, or to see if the product has perished in any way.

The public must be careful when buying consumables because they could pose a serious, perhaps even fatal, health risk, Director General of Setthathirath Hospital, Associate Prof. Dr Khampe Phongsavath, warned.

A senior official of the Food and Drug Department under the Ministry of Health, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times yesterday that before international New Year each year, health officials have visited markets in Vientiane and others provinces to look for expired goods in the interests of consumer safety.

She said that the inspections will run from last month to December of this year to welcome international new year because this year, many shop owners may attempt to sell expired goods or soon to expire goods.

Health officials have started the inspection for expired goods among mixed goods and gift baskets in markets in Vientiane, Xekong province and other provinces around the country This work is carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, she said.

Sometimes they carry out inspections twice a month while health officials will visit urgently to markets for inspection if there has been a report from a concerned citizen.

Every time we have inspected import products at the customs posts between countries we find expired or fake products.

Most of them are insecticides, cooking ingredients, or food, especially frozen seafood, snacks, tea and coffee including squid, sea clams and other types of food, she added.

The Ministry of Health also works with the Industry and Commerce Department and the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Health, and Science and Technology in undertaking the inspections.

He explained that this year, they discovered imported products and foods that were imitation, such as frozen seafood, tobacco and herbicides.

It was found that some of the products were past their use-by date and some had been mixed with other products. The authorities warned the vendors of these goods to stop importing them.

It is prohibited to distribute food using methods that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations on food.

For example, food must not be in open boxes or packages or separated from its original container. This could cause food to become unsafe, contaminated, adulterated or dried, to deteriorate or lose quality.

According to the Law on Food, which was promulgated on June 14, 2004, particularly Article 34 about prohibitions on the import and distribution of food, it is prohibited to import or distribute food that is unsafe, of unacceptable quality or standard, or inconsistent with the laws and regulations on food.

This includes contaminated food, adulterated food, deteriorated food, counterfeit food, perished food, unlabelled food or food whose quality has not been certified, except for fresh food that does not require labelling, such as meat, fish, crabs, mussels, and fresh fruit.

It is also prohibited to import food whose consumption date has nearly expired.


Source: Vientiane Times