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MPs quiz government on imported fish

28th July 2011
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Legislators yesterday sought government’s stand on the imported fish from Japan, claiming that there were reports that traces of radiation had been found on them.

Members of Parliament from the opposition camp and the committee said it was disappointing for the government to keep quiet when the fish consignment was already in the market.

Said Nkumba who tabled the Parliamentary Committee report on the Agriculture, Livestock, and Water sectors on behalf of the chairman, said there were reports that people have already consumed the fish.

The shadow minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries Sylvester Kasulumbayi told the House that according to some media reports, the imported fish consignment was contaminated with dangerous nuclear elements, but that it had been sold to customers in Dar e Salaam, Morogoro and Kilombero.

“If it was the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority which allowed the company to import the consignment of fish after certifying that it was fit for human consumption,…who or which authority then established that the consignment was contaminated with radiated fish?” asked the shadow minister.

He questioned the government’s move to import fish while the country is blessed with abundant stocks from all the rivers, lakes and the ocean.

“Why don’t we spend our foreign currency in purchasing other needs that are not found in the country?” he asked.

The Alphakrust Company, which imported the consignment general manager, Ganeshan Vedagire, was quoted by media as saying that he was surprised at the orders to withhold the fish despite meeting all the local and international safety requirements for importation.

Only 225 kilogrammes of the controversial consignment of fish that had already been released into the market had been recalled by yesterday. There was no clear indication of how much had been sold, with stated figures ranging from 1.39-4 tonnes.

The minister for health and social welfare, Dr Hadji Mponda, confirmed that the ministry had intervened on the strength of a report from an anonymous informer.

The minister said three tonnes of the suspect fish distributed in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Kilombero had been recovered.

The TFDA acting director-general, Hiiti Sillo, said only 225 kgs of the one tonne sent out had been netted.

However, the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission confirmed that it has issued a permit for importation of the fish from Japan.

Meanwhile the Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries, Dr Mathayo David said the government has taken the fish samples to Kenya and South Africa for further testing.

Dr Mathayo explained that the government was earlier satisfied with the investigation reports issued on July 8th this year by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), Tanzania Atomic Mission Energy and ministry’s Fisheries department.

He said that TFDA issued the fish importers with a permit ‘11/F/IER/0890’ on July 11, 2011.

According to him, the fish were also inspected by the Japan Frozen Food Inspection department under its Ministry of Health which showed that fishes were in Japan since December 2011 and were safe for consumption upto June 2012.

The Minister said only a few tones of the fishes were distributed to the market. He said the government is searching for the 1,044 kilogrammes of fish which are in different markets in Morogoro, Kilombero and Dar es Salaam. He said that according to the Tanzania Revenue Authority a total of 124, 992 kilogrammes of fish were imported on July 18th, 2011.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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