Over 480 pounds of expired imported duck meat seized, destroyed
The Guyana Livestock Development Association (GLDA) in collaboration with the Health Ministry’s Department of Veterinary and Public Health seized and destroyed 481 pounds of expired imported duck meat.
Director of Veterinary and Public Health, Dr Ozaye Dodson told the media that the meat was past the expiry date and was also undocumented when it entered into the country. He informed that the GLDA and the Veterinary and Public Health Department are the “competent” authorities which play a major part in the import and export of products of animal origin.
“What would have transpired from few days – I can say from last Friday – the GLDA would have notified us through their normal surveillance activities of produce that were still sold in our major supermarkets which were products they weren’t aware of the import and products they assume would have passed the shelf life date or the best before, that were considered not to be wholesome for human consumption. In this activity, we realised that we would have had to take steps of which seizure would have to be activated, a condemnation and a destruction and this morning we are here to carry out that activity or those activities,” he said on Monday.
He added that the two bodies are hoping that the activity would allow consumers to know that their safety is paramount especially when it comes to importing produce. The produce was stored in the city.
He noted that the duck meat was imported by one of the country’s major importers but stopped short of naming the importer for “confidentiality” reasons.
However, he urged consumers to remain vigilant of what they purchase especially around the impending Christmas season. Dodson added that the activities were undertaken in accordance with the mandate outlined in the Animal Health Act and the Public Health Ordinance 145.
Dodson informed reporters that there are possibilities of the expired duck meat being on the shelves of supermarkets throughout the country and noted that the authorities intend to intensify their surveillance activities in an effort to safeguard public health. He added that they would have also discussed the need for a centralised database of importers of animal products.
He explained that the database would allow the Department and GLDA to monitor all animal products entering the country, its distribution network and storage capabilities.
Meanwhile, GLDA’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dwight Walrond, informed that all importers are aware of the penalties outlined in the Animal Health Act as it relates to the illegal importation of products. He noted that a refresher course was conducted with members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) members.
Walrond said that the GLDA would not be compromising when it comes to public health, adding that they would have to do whatever it takes to ensure that the population is protected.
“This is a part of our work programme. It so happens that this time it’s unfolding now but we always have incidents popping up here and there with new importers but in this case, we saw the need to move in and move quickly because we realised the magnitude of this one. It can have a far-reaching effect not only for public health but the economy of the country because we are self-sufficient when it comes to animal protein and should we have a reoccurrence with what we would have experienced last year with the duck viral hepatitis I don’t think that will auger well for us moving forward,” Dr Walrond stated.
Additionally, GLDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Grayson Halley, said his department plans to intensify inspections as the Christmas season approaches.
He explained that the GLDA is responsible for issuing the “no objection letter” if a request is made to import meat product or live animals. The application includes the country of origin and quantity.
“The GLDA will analyse the procedure. We do a general risk assessment to identify what disease may be prevalent in relation to that particular meat and if we are satisfied, and there is no risk to our local population or animals, we issue the ‘no objection letter’. The letter will then go to the Public Health Department of the Health Ministry and they will do the additional requisite procedure,” Dr Halley explained.