The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID) of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, on Tuesday (September 1), destroyed some 25 tonnes of rice which was shipped to Jamaica from Vietnam in late June, but was found to be contaminated with rodent excreta.
The FSPID’s Senior Food Storage Scientist, Tamara Morrison, told JIS News that the rice, valued at approximately J$1.24 million, was intended for local distribution. The rice was pre-released into the custody of a customs broker, subsequent to which FSPID inspectors conducted an initial inspection of the cargo on June 26.
“The first inspection was relatively short. A breach to the container was seen immediately and, upon opening the container, gnaw marks and what was suspected to be rodent droppings, were seen,” she disclosed. However, she was unable to say whether the breach occurred in Jamaica or the port of origin.
Ms. Morrison said that a detention notice was subsequently served on the customs broker, who had responsibility for the container at the time of the discovery. The importer was also notified. A disposal notice was issued to the parties, after FSPID laboratory results confirmed the contamination. A notification letter was also sent to the Ministry of Health’s Public Health Department, informing them of plans to dump the commodity at the Riverton City landfill in Kingston.
Portions of the contaminated rice, which was condemned for rodent breaches by the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID), being buried at the Riverton City landfill in Kingston.
Dumping and destruction is usually done within 12 days of the issuance of the notice. The disposal of the commodity was, however, not done immediately due to protracted negotiations between the National Solid Waste Management Authority(NSWMA) and the consignee.
Rice has previously been shipped to Jamaica from Vietnam, however the latest shipment is the first to be condemned because of contamination. This is not the first time that imported rice has been deemed unfit for consumption and destroyed.
Last year, 7.42 tonnes of rice, valued at J$500,000, was destroyed by the FSPID. Additionally, some 122.7 tonnes of assorted commodity, valued at J$7.83 million, was also disposed of during 2007/08.
The commodities, including cornstarch, assorted tin products and rice, were destroyed for various reasons, including microbial contamination, wetting and rodent contamination. The commodities originated in various countries, including the United States, Guyana and China.
Since the start of 2009/10, the FSPID has condemned some 2.4 tonnes of peanuts from the USA, valued at J$200,000, due to wetting and mould growth.