Videos on plastic rice, sugar, cabbages, and eggs have gone viral on social media creating apprehension and doubt on the imports of food products in the country.
In one of the videos that have gone viral on Internet, a Bhutanese couple warns others of plastic cabbage in the market. They remove a leaf and burn it on the gas stove.
However, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) officials said although there were no complaints of such products filed in their office, the director general issued a notification on June 29 calling the public to inform the office if they come across suspicious products.
Deputy chief regulatory and quarantine officer, Sithar Dorjee said that the concerns related to plastic rice, sugar, cabbages and eggs have been raised on social media recently including the concerns expressed that such products may enter into Bhutanese markets. “People should report to the nearest BAFRA office with samples of the products.”
He said that it is easy to test if the products are plastic or not. “We can do simple tests like floatation or burning.”
Officials said that their inspectors at the entry gates are alerted and they are vigilant to rule out possibilities of entry into our market, if it is true at all, he said.
BAFRA officials said if they come across any such products, the products would be immediately removed from the market. “We’ve withdrawal procedures and it’ll be prompt,” an official said. “If the plastic rice is mixed with the natural rice, it might be difficult to detect.”
Officials explained that the problem at the present food imports is that BAFRA has no control over food products as the economic affairs ministry’s trade department governs it because of Bhutan’s free trade agreements.
BAFRA regularly inspects mainly fresh food products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat.
The authority is expected to take over inspection of other food imports in the 12th Plan.
Officials said BAFRA is constrained by shortage of human resource and budget limiting its ability to take over food import monitoring.