Thinley Namgay 

To ensure food safety and hygiene, the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) and Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)  yesterday.

OCP and BAFRA will collaborate in food testing, timely inspection, compliance check to the prescribed standards, and enforce labelling of packaged food.

Any unsafe food products found in the market, the two organisations would impose penalties and recall the products.

Manufacturers will have to label the food including the ingredients used, date of manufacture, and the nutritional composition of packaged food for sale.

OCP’s Director, Sonam Tenzin, said that the expiry date of packaged food would be monitored for public safety. “OCP is receiving complaints regarding food adulteration and expiry date. The MoU with BAFRA would address this issue.”

BAFRA’s Director General, Tashi Samdup, said that the collaboration would help promote food safety in the country.

The MoU also allows the two organisations to use each other’s expertise and facilities whenever required. BAFRA will extend the national food testing laboratory’s services to OCP and provide appropriate advice, including identifying external laboratories.

If samples need to be sent for testing in laboratories outside Bhutan, OCP would facilitate and bear the testing and other related charges.

Both the parties would also participate in the development and formulation of regulatory frameworks to represent consumers and protect economic interests and legal rights.

The OCP has also signed an MoU with the Office of Consumer Protection Board, Thailand, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Bhutan Standard Bureau, and joined as a member of Consumers International in 2020. Through Consumers International, OCP could  collaborate with other countries to enhance knowledge on consumer protection.

According to officials, limited human resources, negligence of the people, and lack of proper knowledge on consumer protection’s rights and responsibilities were some of the challenges the two agencies faced today.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that consumers should have access to safe and quality products at a reasonable price.

“It’s timely that the two agencies signed the MoU to maintain the quality and standard of food products. What we eat must be safe,” Lyonpo said.

  The MoU was signed in the presence of Economic Affairs Minister and Secretary yesterday