Traders Urged To Stop Junk Food Importation

By Sunday News

MEMBERS of the business community have been urged to minimise importation and sell of junk food because it is unhealthy to the people and the main source for Non Communicable Diseases (NDCs).

The observation and call was made here during a meeting with members of the business community to discuss the standard of goods, among other issues related to trade in the country.

The meeting was organised by the Zanzibar Bureau of Standards (ZBS). “Most of the imported commodities are cheap food and much easier for international trade. But unfortunately they are quite dangerous to our health.

Limit the importation so that people cannot get them,” said Mr Omar Mwalim, the Manager, NCDs department, Ministry of Health.

Mwalim said the level of both adults and children contracting diabetes and hypertension has been growing and becoming a health problem, bigger than HIV prevalence which is below one per cent.

Other health complications linked to junk food are heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

He warned that over-consumption of imported industrialised food which has high salt, sodium, sugar and trans fats is the major driver behind NCDs, urging people to get back to traditional organic foods.

 Saturated and trans fat food

The health officers also suggested that the country should have in place legal restrictions that protect healthy and local diets, and encourage the private sector to produce and import healthier food.

Deputy Minister for Trade and Industries, Mr Hassan Khamis Hafidh supported the call for importation and supply of healthier food, urging importers to bring to Zanzibaris/ Tanzanians only standard goods.

“We do not want substandard or counterfeit products, I ask ZBS to be careful in checking and issuing clearance for the goods to be sold in the country. We do not want Zanzibar to turn into a dumping ground,” Hafidh said.

Mr Khatib Mwadin Khatib, the Director General of ZBS informed members of the business community and stakeholders that his institution is responsible for the standard of goods produced locally and imported.

“All goods must be certified by ZBS before reaching the consumer,” he said, warning traders and producers who dodge the process that they risk tough penalty.

Traders such as Mr Omar Hussein complained about bureaucracy caused by many government organisations, including ZBS, TBS, Atomic Energy, ZFDA (Zanzibar Food and Drugs Agency) and Government Chief Chemist who need to approve the products before sale in the market.

“It is high time we have a centralised laboratory or single centre to conduct all the testing and harmonization of laws between TBS and ZBS to reduce bureaucracy,” the traders said.

Source: Daily News

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