Food raids leave expats facing empty shelves

26 Oct

“I imported the materials for my breads and they are all already registered with BPOM (The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency) so I have no problem…But the sad thing is for Germans who want to have special sausage mustard, now cannot get it,” Thomas Bart who runs Edel Weiss delicatessen shop said on Saturday while tending his stall at a school event.

“There are certain things you cannot substitute with local products, like salami or cheese,” he said.

Jun, a Korean restaurant owner, also told the Post that he was running out of materials while Mudrika, a cook for Korean executives at a factory in Tangerang, worried about what she would have to cook for her bosses.

“Their taste buds cannot take local products. I used some local dried fish before and they did not like the dish. This week I still had enough to vary three different menus a day, seven days a week. But if this continue, I will have to tell them to eat local food,” she said, after shopping at half-empty Mu Gung Hwa Korean food specialty shop in Tangerang on Tuesday.

Karmila, an account officer that the shop, admitted that the only around half of the previous selections were resupplied, after BPOM raid on Thursday.

“They came on Wednesday and sealed off our shelves. The next morning they came with a truck and some 30 officers and took away the stuff,” she recalled the surprising raid which left some buyers in confusion.

“After knowing that the supplies were going to be seized, buyers bought more than they actually need in fear that they would not be able to buy them in near future,” she said.

Foreign nationals seem to care less about the local certification, as one Korean buyer admitted.

“I never checked the label because I already know the product,” a housewife, who refused to be named, said.

Thomas also shares similar feeling. Although he supported the government effort to protect the consumers from dubious products from certain countries but he said it should be done aptly depending on the scale and status of the foreign manufacturers.

“(I do not mind the local health certificate) if I buy something from Europe, which I know the brand, as long as it is not expired. When you import, from Europe or even Malaysia, you get health certificate from that country,” he said.

The chief operating officer of the Farmers Market, Meshvara Kanjaya, said on Friday the shop had received streams of complains on the much fewer choices provided and questioned when the products would be back on shelves.

“We are at lost. We said we wanted to have Visit Indonesia Year but we cannot even provide their food,” she said.

“Some suppliers said they need a year to get a product registered. They are also subjected to some very tough requirements such as being appointed as formal distributor by the manufacturer. Sometimes they imported in small amount so there is no way the manufacturer will issue the letter of appointment,” she said.

Thomas who registered his products knows exactly how tiresome it was.

“The problem is there is no guideline. Today an officer told me that I need these, then another day another person would tell me ‘oh no, you need this and that as well’. So this makes it difficult and expensive,” he said.

“In the end, the ones who pay for this (cost) are the customers. Or you don’t import anymore,” he added.

Many of the raided products already passed food safety test in their country of origin, although are yet registered in Indonesia.

Djainal Abidin of the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) said the solution was by having a common set of food safety standards with trading partners.

“By having a common set of health standards, if the products to be imported are certified as safe in their country of origin, they are deemed safe by our food safety authority and get the certification,” he said.

“Now BPOM has to check the content of each incoming product; it takes a long time. The agreement also means our products can smoothly enter other country as long as tested safe in Indonesia,” he said.

The organization was due to meet the Trade Minister on Tuesday to urge the government to pay more attention to manufacturing and retail industry and to push for food safety standards.

“Please don’t let the business people to fight for themselves. We have no way to push, China for example, to standardize and oversee their products. It is the government who can push the foreign authorities to ensure the safety of the products. If we import something unsafe, it is also a loss for us because we have to destroy them or even face consumer lawsuit,” he said. (mri)


2 Responses to “Food raids leave expats facing empty shelves”

  1. Carl C October 27, 2008 at 1:09 am #

    common set of food safety standards with trading partners.

    This statement sounds great but at what cost and how long?

    Carl C

  2. Alexwebmaster March 3, 2009 at 9:51 am #

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