Friday, June 20, 2008

Never DUMP Unexported food into Local Market!

I feel sad that we have to suspend our exports of seafood to EU pending auditing of Malaysian exporters. The export of seafood is a big industry in Malaysia where the export value is about a billion per year. It is indeed sad to see that the quality of frozen seafood has deteriorated to a stage where EU bans its import. In 2007 when I was a Minister of Health, I still remember that EU Inspectors who were in Malaysia were so enthusiastic about the quality of seafood from Malaysia, EU will not compromise and tolerate when come to the standard of food products.

The EU nations are known to very strict in enforcing all the health conditions before accepting any import. This goes to show that our seafood exporters have neglected the basic hygiene, storage and transportation of seafood after inspection and auditing by EU. Malaysia seafood exporters should not take for granted that once they are accepted by EU, they will remain so forever.

I hope this frozen seafood which will not be exported will not be dumped into Malaysia market for local consumption. This will be grossly unfair to Malaysian that what is not suitable for EU nations are suitable for Rakyat Malaysia. This reminds me that Johor, which is exports vegetable, chicken, eggs and fruits to Singapore almost daily which valued about RM300 to 400million per year. The Singapore government is equally stringent on the control of pesticide and bacterial contamination on our products. When the products are rejected by the Singapore Government, the Johor State Agriculture and Health Departments has to ensure this product will not be dumped in Johor market. Some years ago, there was some controversy when some of the exporters dumped their products in Johor and were subsequently exposed.

In short, enforcement agency of Malaysia must ensure that what is not good for consumption by others is also not good to Malaysian.

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大马的冷冻海产因不符合特定的卫生条例,被禁止出口至欧盟。为了避免永远被欧盟除名,政府自愿向欧盟卫生及消费保护单位提出除名。虽然只是暂缓之策,但仍不免让我对此事的发生和演变感到难过。冷冻海产出口是我国一大出口项目之一,每年出口额约10亿令吉。我国育有丰富海产,本可为国家赚取丰厚的外汇,带动我国经济,但却因素质剧降被欧盟庞大市场拒于门外,实在可惜让人难过啊。

我任卫长期间,处理出口食品的安全卫生事务时曾和欧盟的卫生检察官接触,亲眼见证他们在进行任务和职责时的坚持和认真,对食品的卫生安全和品质绝不妥协。欧盟对进口的品质要求向来严格,我国的海产被禁,显示我们的海产出口商不符合最基本的卫生条例,包括储存和运输程序,以致无法通关。我国海产出口商必须紧记,今天获准进入欧盟市场的通关令并非永久准证,进口国每回都会以既定程序条例进行审核。

与此同时,我希望这些被打回国的冷冻海产不会被抛入本地的消费市场,这么做对本地消费者极不公平。有关海产若在食品卫生安全的前提下被鉴定不适合欧盟人民食用,也代表着不适合本地人民食用。远的不谈,我国南马大州――柔佛,就几乎每天出口新鲜蔬果、鸡肉和鸡蛋到新加坡。新加坡对食品安全的严格要求和欧盟不逞多让。当出口的食品被拒,柔州农业局和卫生局必将确保出口商无法把有关食品转售到本地市场。曾几何时,就有出口商把无法通关的食品售给本地消费者,被揭发后掀起很大的争议,引起人民强烈反弹。

关于食品卫生和安全如此重要的事项,对全球任何一个国家或民族,我们都必须一视同仁,希望我国的执法当局能确保本地消费者,也能食用高品质的食品,在执行任务时切记“他所不欲,勿施我民”。

9 comments:

Tahir said...

I find it so difficult to imagine that the quality of the seafood has deteriorated so much since you left office. Were you derelict in your duty or are you just putting spin on the EU inspector' visit?

Whatever the case, what could have caused such a situation to occur? Suddenly all the exporters fall short of health standards and en mass at that?

Please, get with the times...more info, less spin please

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

Instead of being in any manner angry or upset
Be thankful for the high EU health standards set
Since no chances are taken nor do they want to bet
On getting value and satisfaction for money in the seafood they get

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 200608
http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
Fri. 20th June 2008.

NEIL said...

Dr,In malaysia many people don't make things last.The take off is always short live for those are doing export.You see what the Japanese are doing.Stringent measures must be taken to ensure that highest quality is maintain at all times.Let this be a lesson to all.That's the price all have to pay when one or two exporters started lowering the standards to maximize the profit.May be this a blessing in disguise.A eye openner for all to see.

Onlooker said...

Dear Dr. Chua,

As a Johorean, I appreciate your showing the concern on the issue of reselling unhealthy and unhygienic rejected export seafoods, poultries and vegetables by the exporters to Johor. Your concern may be relevant since it is related to your profession as a medical doctor.

However, I think you have posted too hastily such a blog which may cause additional blow to the seafood exporters to Europe from Malaysia. I am not a seafood exporter. However, I used to be a fish farmer and I had the adequate knowledge to tell that most seafood exports from Malaysia would be processed with rapid frozen method with container freezer and then be transported with sea freight to Europe.

Since the Ministry of Health is going to conduct an investigation on the causes of seafood contamination, we are not able to rule out the possibility of the seafood contamination being happened due to the malfunction or dysfunction of the freezer container during the transportation process. If this is the case, then most likely the seafood produced in the local fish farms or harvested from the deep sea may still be able to meet the food health and safety requirement of the relevant standards and law when the seafoods are still in Malaysia.

To suggest a total ban on the resale of seafood to the local market after an export ban imposed by the Malaysian Ministry of Health will not do any good to our present inflation hike economy in general and to our fishermen or food fish farmers in particular. I believe majority of the fishermen and the farmers are honest people. That is no rationale for us to exert additional hardship to them at the moment while the true causes of the seafood contamination are still pending for investigation.

Noone shall be punished until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The same rule shall also be applied to the fishermen and the farmers.

Pearls said...

What is there to be sad?? Such incidents will always happen to Malaysia may it be banning from Singapore or EU or any other part of the world. The only reason why such things happen to us is because we are not strict about any of our law and our enforcement sucks big time.

I can never understand why we cannot have stringent law enforcement while the rest of the other countries could. Look at Singapore, they too gained independence more or less the same time as us but they have moved on to have world class standards in their enforcement. Why so?

This is one example. The other example is the recently announced law on rear seatbelt enforcement. It's a real laugh till die case to hear that there is a loophole in this rear seat belt. If there is not enough rear seat belt, then no need to use! WHAT IS THAT!? The whole purpose of this rear seat belt is to ensure all at the back of the vehicle are buckled up! So, if there is 3 rear seat belt, than only 3 human can be at the back and not 5 or 6 or 7! So, why the need to have the loophole? To be compassionate to those who has large family? Is there a need for such compassion? We are talking about human lives here and yet, we are compromising for the sake of keeping some people happy. IS THAT RIGHT?? IS THAT HOW LAW IS TO BE ENFORCED? How do you think Singapore enforced this rear seat belt and children car seat? Do you think they were compassionate to those with large families?! of course not. They tell these large families to either change their vehicle to accommodate all comfortably or take the bus! So, why can't we do the same??

So, in the nutshell, it is our own fault that our seafood is banned by EU. We will ultimately, pay the price of such lax law enforcement because it is for sure these seafood will be dumped into our local market. Think la!! so much losses.. you think these people will just throw these seafood into the sea? Get real!!

NEIL said...

Dr, your blog is getting boring and not updated promptly.If you don't show the comments then we think that the topics is not interesting.See the time and the date of your topic,but till now there is no show of the comments.Get it right,DR.See MT,so many topics to comments.

Onekampung said...

Never dump unexpected food (seafood) into Local Market? Think again! You think some of these seafood exporter businessmen care? They will only care if there is strict enforcement by our enforcement officers.

Look at the pork issues. How many of our pig farmers time and again flout the laws and warnings by the MOH in using the mean stimulant (can't remember what it is called) until they are caught, fined and banned for some months before their pigs are allowed in the market again? We have among the strictest laws in the world, but our enforcement, sad to mention the least, is really not up to the mark.

Likewise, we can have the best building in the world, but we never believe in proper maintenance, or our officers simply couldn't be bothered to do a proper work. Just go and see the KLIA toilets and compared with Changi Airport, we should be ashmed of ourselves.

Pearls is right, if there is no proper enforcement, we might as well leave all the laws behind us.

So don't be surprised if one day we suddenly find prices for seafood have dropped tremendously, then it may be the time to think twice before eating seafood.

steven chong said...

from what i know is there is actually no contaminated seafood detected in any shipment to Europe. To export to europe, u need an EU approval number. To maintain this number, u need to fulfill certain EU listing specification, sucha as HACCP or ISO 22000. Food safety data need to be stored and traceable.

The latest "raid" by EU auditor to some EU listed seafood exporter in Perak, met with disaster result, >50% of the company audited failed the Audit.

Since the non-compliance rate is so high, EU assume that >50% of all other seafood exporter in whole malaysia will also failed the Audit too. Since Malaysian government is the Authority on enforcement, EU initiate a blanket ban on Malaysia.

Do you guys know that here is not even 1 poultry producer in malaysia are qualified to export to EU or other country? The minister of agriculture is a disgrace to the country, totally incompetent in promoting malaysia poultry to EU or japan. a bunch of clueless morons.

Dr, since MOH is the authority on HACCP, why some company failed by EU but pass by MOH?

Im doing Automated traceability solutions for HACCP or ISO 22000 compliance for food producer, most of the site i visited are low tech and labour intensive, basically human being(immigrant labour)are not consistent enough to maintain a well kept food safety data. with undesireable personal hygiene from the immigrant worker, they are actually compromising our safety standard!!

in the long run, we should embrace automation just like SG, Aus, US, UK or ....the EU!

dranony said...

DrChua, you wrote:
"...ensure that what is not good for consumption by others is also not good to Malaysian."

Not that I condone dumping of unfit food into the Malaysian markets, but we have to admit that, often, Singapore has more stringent standards.
This is also true even of medical qualifications. I dare say that some of the qualifications from a few (not all) Malaysian medical schools are unacceptable to Singapore, yet we happily unleash these graduates unto our Malaysian public.
It would now appear that we are even lowering our standards even lower, just to accomodate some graduates from unrecognised foreign universities, just to bow to political pressure.

How would you reconcile that, with what you have written?

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