Chinese products hauled off shelves
The administrator of the Panamanian Food Security Authority AUPSA (Autoridad Panameña de Seguridad de Alimentos), Gilberto E. Real said ...
The administrator of the Panamanian Food Security Authority AUPSA (Autoridad Panameña de Seguridad de Alimentos), Gilberto E. Real said that “fortunately, Panama has never authorized the entrance of Chinese baby formula, which was the start of the scandal leading to a number of baby deaths and leaving thousand of children with kidney stone.
“But as a precaution and bearing in mind that the sanitary problems have ramifications in other countries we decided to close the import of 56 Chinese product lines and prohibit their sale all over the country.
“ It was a strong measure, that we took in order to protect public health,” said Real.
The products that were taken from the market from September 26 were mainly sweets, chocolates and cookies that have dehydrated milk or dairy derivatives in their list of ingredients.
The idea of the ban was to give AUPSA sufficient time to analyze the Chinese products without having to worry about possible cases of contaminated food.
Authorities are not only looking for melamine, but other chemicals that could be harmful to humans, explained the director.
Real said that so far AUPSA has retained 770 imports of Chinese products and destroyed 130,321 kilos of merchandise.
He added that any shop owner found selling the suspected products could be fined up to $1 million and the case could be taken to the Public Ministry to be prosecuted.
Inspectors of AUPSA, the Consumer Protection Authority and the Ministry of Health took part in the operations to remove the suspect items from shops in El Dorado, Chinatown, Los Pueblos, Rio Abajo, Los Angeles, Bella Vista and Transistmica, where shop owners willingly complied with authorities.
“The shop owners did not complain about having their merchandise seized, because they were very concerned about public health, and their customers who are chiefly of Chinese origin,” said Real.
“We have a good relationship with the Chinese community and they are cooperating with us.
“They did not mind having their stock confiscated as a way of protecting public health.
“We are not going to return the products back until we are sure that they are safe,” added Real.
Talking about the next steps AUPSA will take, Real said: “Once our investigation is finished we will lift the ban and authorize the import and sale of products (that have been cleared) in the country.”