Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's true Zambeef's beef has aldehyde
By Mwala Kalaluka, Fridah Nkonde and Agnes Changala
Thu 20 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

AN analysis of eight beef products imported into the country by Zambeef seen by The Post has confirmed the presence of aromatic aldehyde.
But Zambeef has expressed surprise and disappointment that attempts were being made to portray its imported beef products as unwholesome and not fit for human consumption.

Health experts say the aromatic aldehydes discovered in the Zambeef beef is used to embalm dead bodies and can cause organ cancer in humans.

And the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says it is aware about Zambeef's imported products being under scrutiny.

According to the analysis by the Ministry of Health's Food and Drugs Control Laboratory conducted in Lusaka last week, aromatic aldehyde was detected in all the samples.

The analysed samples included packed ox-tail marked CNN/001/F/2013, packed ox-tail marked CNN/002/F/2013, packed ox-tail marked CNN/003/F/2013, packed ox-tail marked CNN/004/F/2013, packed ox-liver marked CNN/005/F/2013, packed ox-liver marked CNN/006/F/2013, packed ox-hooves marked CNN/007/F/2013 and packed ox-hooves marked CNN/008/F/2013.

Health experts told The Post yesterday that aromatic aldehydes, which they compared to Benzene or jet fuel, are powerful preservative chemicals that are dangerous for human beings as they cause diseases such as Leukaemia.

"For example, if someone dies here in Zambia and they come from the UK, in order for the body to reach the UK fresh, we inject the aromatic aldehydes in the veins. So it is clear that they use it to keep their beef fresh for a very long time," the health experts who opted to remain anonymous said. "Aromatic aldehydes are very dangerous chemicals and it is unfortunate that Zambeef is actually using that chemical to keep their beef fresh. It is common knowledge that the only reason Zambeef is using that chemical is because they want to keep their products fresh."

They said the presence of large quantities of aromatic aldehyde in the beef Zambeef Plc imports would be a clear indication that the substance was deliberately put there to keep their beef fresh.

CCPC director consumer and education Brian Lingela yesterday said the commission had received correspondence regarding the discovery of aromatic aldehyde in imported beef by Zambeef.

"We received correspondence from the provincial medical office in the Copperbelt in which they are talking about this matter. One of the inspectors took the samples to Food and Drug Control laboratory and they informed us about the meeting yesterday Tuesday," Lingela said.

Lingela said the provincial office in the Copperbelt also requested the commission to attend a meeting that took place in Ndola yesterday.
He said his office had since sent a representative to attend the meeting in Ndola.

Lingela said the commission was hoping to hear the matter and also find a solution.

"What Zambeef has done is unacceptable and what health inspectors have done is a commendable job which needs support from consumer organizations," said Lingela.

Lusaka City Council director of Public Health Greenford Sikazwe said his department has not picked any samples from Zambeef for analysis.
"It is not true that Lusaka City Council inspectors are the ones who were investigating this issue, so your story is not true," Sikazwe said.

However, sources within Lusaka City Council confirmed that it is true the samples in question were not sourced by the local authority but by a council from the Copperbelt and that all at Lusaka City Council were aware of the results from the samples.

Asked if his department has ever received complaints relating to Zambeef products, Sikazwe answered in the affirmative.
"We received complaints (in May 2013) but the issues were being dealt with at Ministry of Health," he said.

Asked why they could not carry out an independent investigation on the products as a department, Sikazwe said his department works on delegated legislation from the Ministry of Health.

"That's why we couldn't act there and then because it was being addressed by the Ministry of Health," said Sikazwe.

But Zambeef public relations manager Justo Kopulande stated in an advert yesterday that the firm was surprised and disappointed that there were attempts to portray these imported beef products as unwholesome and not fit for human consumption.

"Zambeef only imports beef products that are in short supply locally. We import these products mainly from Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States of America. These are major exporting countries and have the highest food safety standards in the world," Kopulande stated.

"In importing these products, Zambeef obtains due authority from the relevant government authorities in Zambia. The relevant government authorities in the exporting countries inspect, test and certify all consignments as wholesome and fit for human consumption."

He stated that the importation and exportation of meat products was governed by the World Trade Organisation under the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Agreement in line with the Organisation for Animal Health guidelines.

"The Zambian government issues us with a permit for importation of livestock and livestock products under the Department of Veterinary Services and the Import Permit under the The Control of Goods Act. The exporting countries issue Health Certificates and Certificates of Origin for each and every consignment," Kopulande stated further.

"The Health Certificates declare that the food is wholesome and fit for human consumption. These certificates are issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK, and the Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service in the USA."

He explained that Zambeef only imports a small fraction of what these countries export to the rest of the world, mostly to first world countries and that these were the same products that are supplied and consumed by the public in the originating countries.

"In our 20 years of existence as an indigenous Agribusiness Zambian company, dual-listed on The Lusaka Stock Exchange and the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange, we maintain only the very highest food safety practices," Kopulated stated.

Recently, traces of horse DNA were discovered in beef products in the United Kingdom.

And Consumer Unit Trust Society International has demanded that Zambeef be banned from operating in Zambia because their action amounted to killing the consumers.

CUTS international communications manager Simon Ng'ona called for punitive measures against Zambeef because its action fell short of meeting the tenets of competition and consumer welfare and consumers' rights to be availed with products of high quality.

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