While most food business operators (FBOs) are unaware of the recent food safety notifications that mandated foods to be stored at certain temperatures, those who are aware claimed it is not compliable.

On September 14, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) notified that FBOs, establishments and food manufacturers should store perishable and high-risk food items such as the bakery products within 15 to 20 degree Celsius.

The notification also stated that bakery items containing custards, meat, vegetables, frosting made of cream cheese, whipped cream and eggs must be kept under recommended refrigeration condition 1.6 to 3.3 degree Celsius.

A business operator, Dargey, said that complying with the notification would mean they should own a cooler or a refrigerator and the smallest one costs more than Nu 100,000. “Bakery products such as bread have three days shelf life and keeping them in the cooler would frost the product and damage it.”

He said that the small shops might lose the opportunity to sell bakery products due to the lack of space for the refrigerators.

BAFRA’s food safety officer, Kubir N. Bhattarai, said that the storage compliance will depend on the prescribed condition on the product label and the notification is not mandatory for all packaged products.

He said that some of the products could be kept at normal temperature. “They are packed in such a way that they can be stored at normal room temperature.”

He also said that the notification was issued through BAFRA field offices and the BAFRA inspectors will monitor these requirements during their regular inspection.

The notification stated that food, which has high risk of spoilage, are displayed by retail shops for longer duration without maintaining the required storage condition. “This is a serious food safety concern, as these products are highly susceptible to quick spoilage and could cause serious food poisoning.”

Phurpa Lhamo