Thursday, September 21, 2017

FDA finds illegal chemicals in Nay Pyi Taw markets

Foods from the markets in Nay Pyi Taw and Pyinmana Myoma Zay were found to contain illegal chemicals and dyes, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Department Deputy Director Dr Tun Lin Aung said on May 11.

This was found during surprise checks made on several retail markets on March 29-30 and Pyinmana Myoma Zay on May 8-9.

“Two out of 75 kinds of food samples were found to have illegal chemicals and dyes,” he said.

Dried tomatoes with generic brand names were found containing forbidden Rhodamine B, said Dr Tun Lin Aung.

“Letters will be sent to the respective managers [from the outlets]. Then these products will be removed immediately from the market,” he continued.

“We will then check these products a second time,” said the deputy director.

“If chemicals are still found during our second round of checks, these brands will be declared in the newspaper and banned. They cannot continue to be sold in the market. The owner must make products without dyes. If dyes are found during the second round of checking, the producer will be banned from selling them, let’s say, for 6 months,” he said.

Taking foods with Rhodamine B may cause cancer and chemical poisoning like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhoea, said Dr Tun Lin Aung.

“The ngapi [fish paste] in Pyinmana market was found containing Rhodamine B which should not be added.

Therefore, it is also necessary for us to check pickled tea leaves, ngapi and betel nuts to see whether they contain dyes or not.” he said.

“90 percent of betel nuts sold in Nay Pyi Taw contain sodium hydrosulfide which is a bleach. Betel nuts are very hard. So they have to be softened for easy chewing. It takes 7 hours to boil it in water. If sodium hydrosulfide is added, the color of betel nuts becomes beautiful in addition to softening and reducing its bitterness,” he said.

Those betel nuts cannot be removed from the market at the moment but wholesalers have been educated on the bad effects of the bleach, Dr Tun Lin Aung said.

“We mainly educate them. We cannot put them in jail immediately,” he said.

Sodium hydrosulfide is used for bleaching and durability in Canada, Japan and Korea to preserve raw fish, prawns, crabs and meat for export.

“The allowable sodium hydrosulfide amount is not more than 100 units but over 500 units were found in betel nuts. Even one unit is not allowed in Myanmar. It is illegal to use,” he said.

Articles educating the public on avoiding sodium hydrosulfide which can threaten lives will be put in magazines, he said.

Betel nuts are mainly grown in Taungoo and Pyay townships and they are distributed throughout the country.

“A complaint letter from Pyay regarding betel nuts was received. They are mainly produced there. Betel nut samples from Pyay were sent to the laboratory. If they contain sodium hydrosulfide, we will follow that source of information. I have asked to check betel nuts from Taungoo during this week, too,” said Dr Tun Lin Aung.

The FDA will plan an operation to inspect foods like betel nuts and ngapi in other states and regions on whether they use chemicals and dyes.

“We have a plan for the whole nation. We will instruct all our branches to seek market information and send the samples. It will be launched within this week,” said the deputy director. 

Translation by Zaw Nyunt