Food Fraud MUST Concern Us

The Editor

You may be interested in posting the attached article on food fraud which I did in 2000. The topic is topical as Ms. Ena Harvey talked about the topic in today’s paper [8 August 2019]. The scan is from the original newspaper cuttings and gives a run down on the history of food fraud.

Food fraud is widespread. In the past canned goods were embossed with the expiry dates. The observant consumer would have noticed that these days,the expiry dates are stamped in ink. Obviously,given the right chemical solvents,these inked-on dates can easily be replaced with new dates even after expiry. Unscrupulous persons in the food industry can exploit these opportunities in developing countries quite readily. One way of detecting these types of fraud is by testing for the vitamin content which declines with time,especially with canned products.The food products near the expiry dates are sold off en mass by auction very cheaply. It cost a few cents to relabel and change the expiry dates.

I am sorry about the quality of the scans. This one is some what better. At least it can be read.

Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D, Food Biotechnologist

food fraud.png

33 comments

  • Blog submissions like this one will not generate the interest or commentary, it is not about political poppycock or religious dogma. It is about the importance of food preparation, food security and in this case food fraud. We have our priorities ass backwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  • A big thank you to Dr. Lucas for tirelessly keeping these issues front and centre.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Equal concern should be shown about the minority criminals who believe they own the island’s water supply…especiially when Bizzy “gimme me”…boldly came out and DEMANDED that sixty million dollars and the BWA be given to him..handed to this crook just so without any valid reason other than he is uppity arrogant and greedy…

    …it is extremely bad to be vulnerable to food fraud because of weak corrupt governments, but your water supply should not be in the hands of minority criminals..at any time..

    Liked by 1 person

  • That’s what happens when you rely so much on ‘unknown’ sources to feed you.

    Given the oppressively high food import bill, gluttonous Bajans are especially at high risk to food fraud.

    How can Bajans feel comfortable eating tilapia imported from China and reared on fish farms fed by the human waste processed for fish consumption?

    It can be convincingly argued that Barbados can significantly reduce the health risks arising from imported food fraud by effectively making greater use of those (now disuse) arable lands with access to water stored in underground reservoirs which have been bequeathed by Mother Nature and inadvertently inherited from a hard taskmaster called the plantation system.

    Bajans are making a mockery of the invocation of “Pride and Industry” contained in their National Anthem.

    Those fields and hills which are now your very own are clearly not being put to any good use with any great expectations in sight.

    So what kind of mirror image do Bajans have of themselves?

    Certainly not one of strict guardians of your heritage or firm craftsmen of your destiny!

    It’s more than timely for Bajans to remember that they are what they eat and Food must come first.

    “FEED” must be more than an acronym but a national imperative if BERT is to be more than Santa Claus.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Miller

    Are we not tired of the same message from successive Ministers of Agriculture? This week listen to Weir, our import bill is too high.

    Like

  • PesticidesChina Aquatic environment Environmental risk DDT HCH

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016041201500104X

    Liked by 1 person

  • As long as Bajans have money to import food, agriculture will not be a priority.

    Like

  • Why does Massy at Oistins import carrots from Canada and citrus juice from Miami, when our CARICOM cousins are major citrus producers?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David Bu at 9 :57 AM

    Is there a metric that measures what percentage of imported food is actually consumed by Barbadians? Did this import food bill not rise exponentially with the growth in the fast food and tourism industries?

    Like

  • ” Given that Barbados’ $325 million in food imports accounts for approximately 90% of all domestically consumed food, with $88 million of this expense being attributed to primary agricultural goods such as lettuce and onions that can be easily grown locally, the programme is expected to be a boon to the small nation’s economy. The sector is also ripe for strategic restructuring, given a 16% cut in government agricultural spending for 2019-2020.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2019/03/25/agriculture-project-promises-to-slash-barbados-hefty-food-import-bill/#24889bfe50f6

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Hal at 11 :06 AM

    Vegetable cultivation in Barbados is still seasonal. There are periods of the year when importation is necessary. I believe this is so wherever there is free trade. Local production of carrots satisfies about 70 % of local needs.

    Like

  • Lloyd P Gulston

    Dear Dr Lucas

    Another very well written article.

    I have always wondered if Barbadians were getting quality food for their money. We have all heard the rumors that a lot of expired food finds its way into Barbados because it is cheaper to buy and better for profits. We also know that you can place high mark ups on these foods and blame the high import taxes for the inflated prices because we do not have proper ”consumer watch dog” in place.

    I am not one to jump all over hearsay and speculation, but we are talking about Barbados, an island that has a proven track record of unethical conducts and compromising standards.

    I posted a question to you on your Fish Markets post regarding if our inspectors are trained at a level that can we can say: they are scientifically competent and well adapt to carry the various inspections and audits need to prove the quality levels of the food we import and eat. Unfortunately, you did not respond to that post.

    I am going to assume that we have a system in place that regularly tests imported food, and an agency that can have establish contacts with overseas Food Regulatory Offices. who can provide them with any clarity needed regarding suspect food cases. I would think that such exists and is use on a regular basis to prevent food that is pass its Use By Date from entering the island. I await your response.

    Regards

    LPG

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David Bu

    The Ministry of Agriculture is not an easy Ministry. Production of food depends on the weather and the productivity of various species. These are outside the control of man. Foodwise we are not doing too badly.

    Like

  • @ Vincent

    Remember the carbon footprint. We must focus on CARICOM for our agricultural supplies. Guyana can be more than the food basket of the Caribbean.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Hal Austin at 2:46 PM

    Guyana has a large land area. But it does not belong to Barbados nor is all the land suitable for producing food for CARICOM at economic prices. I believe Canada was chosen because it met all the commercial requirements. In the Global Economy one has to be rational.

    Like

  • @ Vincent

    Think CARICOM. Guyana can more than feed the entire Caricom area. Carbon footprint is important must ALWAYS be factored in. What commercial requirements did Canada meet? All the land in Canada is not suitable for producing food either.

    Like

  • @ Hants August 9, 2019 10:05 AM

    I would suggest that you inspect the labels on foods; if China is listed as the country of origin do not buy the product. Even the Chinese prefer to buy baby milk products made in the west Even pork products like hams the Chinese have bought the major American ham producer of country-style hams (old fashioned one that have to be soaked)’
    The use of organic chlorine pesticides (Organochlorines :DDT,DDD, Dicofol, Eldrin, Dieldrin, Chloro-benziate, Lindane, BHC, Methoxychloro Aldrin, Chlordane, Heptaclor, Endosufan, Isodrin, Isobenzan, Toxaphene, Chloro-propylate have been banned in the west for nearly fifty years. Rachael Carson book ” silent Spring” published in September 1962 exposed the dangers of the above chemicals. Theses chemicals accumulate in bodily fats and are not broken down and can result in cancers in humans and infertility in wild fowl among other things. As a young agronomist, I have handled DDT, toxaphene, lindane,Eldrin, Dieldrin, Aldrin and chlorodane. Chlorodane is really something else: spray around your ground sill if you are living in the country and you don’t have to worry about centipedes for over a year ,I can attest to that . You should read the book by Upton Sinclair ” The Jungle” published in 1906 : it exposed the nefarious practices of the American Food industry . toxic compounds like red lead was rubbed on spoilt meats to retain the fresh red color. The “the jungle’ resulted in the establishment of federal drug and cosmetic regulatory agency.

    @ Lloyd P Gulston August 9, 2019 2:39 PM

    ” have a system in place that regularly tests imported food”

    The Government Analytical Department does the testing. In the sixties up to the eighties regular testing was done by Mr. Carmichael, Dr.Shue and Trevor King. Testing was done on all food products. The boys used to go up to the Analyst( based in Agriculture at the time) especially when tests were being done on gin, whisky, vodka . After testing, the remains( nearly full bottles) were sampled by the fellows.

    “inspectors are trained at a level that can we can say: they are scientifically competent and well adapt to carry the various inspections and audits”

    They are trained in most theoretical aspects of the subject matter. Attachments to processing plants are also done. All testing of a microbial and chemical nature is done by the government Analyst and the veterinarian laboratories. One draw back in the chemical and microbial area ,there should be more practical testing exposure. Meanwhile, the two labs mentioned are adequate enough

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Lloyd P Gulston August 9, 2019 2:39 PM

    One point I over looked. In the old days test were done for moisture, protein, fat and ash, the usual run of the mill test. To test for vitamins and speciation ( that is if the beef in corned beef is beef and not horse meat) there are a lot of rapid methods based on the enzyme-linked immune assay( ELISA) methods that can be used. The test kits can be purchased or the test can be done from first principles using reagents produced in the lab. the latter separates the very good scientist from your average Joe. It is cheaper in any event and the scientist get to hone his experimental skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Hal Austin at 3 :12 PM

    Like you. I am a CARICOM believer. I have no doubt that in certain goods ,Guyana can supply the needs of CARICOM,but land is not the only input to the production process. There are also other externalities ,including politics,which we tend to ignore. I think there is a big gap between Possibility and Probability.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    Any country that call itself INDEPENDENT and cannot AT LEAST provide for 50 % of its food security is a JOKE. And that is what is happening to most small developing states. Why should Barbados food security be at the mercy of New Zealand dairy farmers, Brasilian cattle farmers, USA soyabean farmers, even Thailand rice farmers or any other country outside of CARICOM for that matter?

    Guyana, Suriname, and Belize have enough arable land and know-how to provide 100% of our basic staples. But we don’t think big on these matters. The path of least resistance (IMPORT) is our default settings.

    Like

  • @fortyacresandamule

    If you accept the argument put forward by the Wickhams and Mascolls it is a matter of economics. The Caribbean including Barbados can better spend hard earned resources that would be more productive.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    Just the other day I was pleased when I heard that Belize would for the first be shipping crude soyabean to Jamaica to process into edible oil, instead of Jamaica importing the same product from the USA. That is what I am talking about. Caricom has enough resources to feed herself. I agree with Hal.

    Like

  • (Quote):
    Guyana, Suriname, and Belize have enough arable land and know-how to provide 100% of our basic staples. But we don’t think big on these matters. The path of least resistance (IMPORT) is our default settings. (Unquote).
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The importation of food represents a huge slice of commercial activity in Barbados.

    Despite the fake mouthings of those politicians (including the present incumbent) who have been dumped in that legless chair at the MoA the Government of Barbados actively encourages the importation of food especially the ‘processed’ varieties.

    The importation of food (including its distribution and retailing) provides a taxation milch cow for the Treasury.

    Check out some of the more ‘Popular’ supermarkets and you would observe that at least 80 % of the shelves are dedicated to offering for sale imported processed foods of every variety under the non-Bajan sun.

    Some of the large distributors of imported processed foods in Barbados are also some of the largest financial backers of both main political parties aka the famous Duopoly.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    @David. I don’t buy that lazy intellectual argument from those guys. Look at Holland, one of the largest exporter of primary and value added agriculture in the world, a country whose size is just 1/5 of Guyana. NZ, is relatively small country, tucked away far down in the southern hemisphere, yet it is able to become the world’s largest exporter of dairy products. Israel is located basically in a desert, but they still managed to provide for over 80% of their food security.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    @Miller. Very Insightful. So basically, the custom duties revenue from food importation trumped everthing else.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    @David. The same lazy argument has been said about africa, a continent with the most arable land. Paradoxically, a lot of these african countries have become food insecure and food dependent on imports. Before the recent oil crash, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest importer of rice,.. a commodity that Nigeria has the capacity to be self-sufficient in. Over 60% of nigeria land area is arable.The Dutch disease, caused by easy oil money, has destroyed Nigeria agriculture industry beginning in the 70s.

    The oil crash was a urgent wake-up call for Nigeria. Not that shocks of this nature was new to the nigerian economy. However, agriculture became fashionable after years of lip service about diversifying the economy. Now, Nigeria has been able to produce enough rice and thus cut its import drastically. We will need a food shock on our path to change our current thinking.

    Like

  • @ Vincent,

    You are shifting your argument. Politics, racism, a poverty of ideas and ambitions, we all know the reason why Guyana, with its enormous natural resources, is still one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere.
    When I was a kid, Barbados imported rice from Guyana; now Guyana is a net importer of American rice (Haiti too was a net exporter of rice). This failure is not because of arable land, but the failure of the Caribbean ruling elite. This is our post-independence puzzle and one we must resolve. We may continue blaming the rest of the world, but the major problem is ours.
    As to Africa being the food basket of the world, it is important to note that the Middle Eastern nations and China (and Goldman Sachs) have obtained long leases on land in Africa to feed their own people.
    Think about it: poor, hungry African labourers working on land producing rice and other produce to feed Chinese and Arabs, while they cannot afford to buy the very food they are producing. Stop and think about that for a minute.
    I will give another example: we have had a state marketing board for over 55 years; we have hotels that are heavily subsidised by the taxpayers who import a lot of the food they feed their guests; yet our highly qualified ruling elite, dominated by lawyers, cannot resolve the conundrum of subsidised hotel managements and an under-performing farming sector.
    There is a simple answer (based on derivatives): the marketing board could guarantee a market for the farmers’ products and, in the meantime, government could compel hotels and restaurants to buy ground produce from the marketing board or risk losing their government grants and fiscal advantages.
    Policy making is our shortcoming and lawyers are the barriers to our developing sound public policy. Just ask White Oaks.

    Like

  • @fortyacresandamule

    Do not fault your position.

    Minister Weir has been spouting the usual messages read using technology to shift to hydroponic and aquaponic farming. We will have to wait to see if the talk moves to action. If history is anything to go by …

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Hal Austin at 4 :39 AM

    I have not shifted from my position. If anything,you have elaborated on the political externalties that will simply derail the engineering solution of converting large land availability into actual production for the CARICOM countries. I never denied the possibility only the probability. There are a lot of things that we can do but for other reasons we do not. I am a pragmatist. I know Caribbean politics well.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU

    The farmers have to implement. The minister facilitates. You are putting responsibilities on Ministers of GoB that are not theirs.
    Hydroponics and aquaponics are very much in place in Barbados and for at least three decades.

    Like

  • @Vincent

    If there is implementation it points back to the effectiveness of policy making.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU at 12:09 PM

    I agree.
    Let me assure you that policies do not originate with politicians. The ideas originate in the minds of the technocrats and the agriculturists. The effectiveness depends on the the necessary resources being garnered to do so. That is management.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent Codrington August 10, 2019 12:19 PM
    “Let me assure you that policies do not originate with politicians.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Are you implying that the policies and programmes contained in those 5 year manifestos of promises (aka electoral gimmicks) to bring solutions to the country’s problems and salvation to the poor people’s suffering are not the handiwork of politicians but bureaucrats and technocrats?

    Are you suggesting that the ‘average’ politician is nothing more than a confidence trickster?

    Is that why a political party’s manifesto can be described simply as a tissue of fake promises and falsehoods which the ‘discerning voter should not sneeze into?

    Are you implying that the Bajan electorate has been suckered into a false covenant of hope?

    Like

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