Food: Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) officials in Wangdue, on January 16, seized and disposed off grocery items and beverages that had well passed the best before date.

Officials said the expired items were seized during a routine inspection conducted in Bajo, Chazam, Phobjikha, Gangtey, Nobding, and Tikizampa and Chuzomsa areas.

The disposed grocery item includes biscuits, spices, pickles, noodles and other processed dry products. Cold drinks like Fanta, coca-cola and sprite were mostly found in hotels, restaurants and bars. The shelf life of such drinks are shorter,  ranging from two and half to three months, compared with other grocery products, officials said.

BAFRA officials said both shop owners and consumers were also advised to check the manufacturing date when purchasing goods from the shops. “We also highlighted the shopkeepers about the need of proper arrangement of the items to avoid loss from goods going out of date,” officials said.

As of today, officials said they have only seized and disposed the good items, and didn’t levy fines. “Once people are made fully aware of BAFRA rules and requirements, we are going to fine them. Grocery items are fined  10 times the market value as per the “Food Act of Bhutan 2005 and Food Rules and Regulation of Bhutan 2007”.  Meat products are fined double the market price if found rotten and unfit for human consumption.

Meanwhile, BAFRA officials said the volume of date expired items have been reduced drastically unlike in the past. This they said was an indication of people becoming aware of the rules and regulations.

By Dawa Gyelmo,  Wangdue