Over 90,000 kg of food and related items have been seized by the Addis Ababa Food, Medicine, Health Care Administration and Control Authority (AFMHACA) in the last six months.
These products were for sale in café’s and supermarkets and included bread, enjera, baking products, vegetables, packed foods, biscuits, grain, flour and 30,000 liters of juices and other drinks.
One very concerning issue is that people are mixing teff and wheat flour with harmful products like sawdust and gypsum in order to increase their profits. Last year several people were jailed in Akakai, Kolfe, and Kaliti for baking enjera with these types of materials. There is also strong evidence that expired foreign food is being smuggled into the country through the eastern border headed for Addis Ababa.
Many of the seized food and beverages were exposed to poor storage facilities, rain, and other unhygienic ways of holding food, thereby making them toxic and unfit for human consumption. The bureau is asking for a strong commitment from custom officers, police, and consumers to expose sellers who store and sell expired foods.
Alemtsehay Paulos, vice director of AFMHACA, said that there are more than 27,000 licensed businesses who sell food and drinks.
“From our random investigation we seized a large amount of expired food and beverages so we suspect there is a lot more. Because we can’t be everywhere we need extra sets of eyes and ears to help us get more expired food off the shelves,” she said.
Medicine is another area of concern. According to her, 48 health companies were caught using expired medicine and selling them to patients.
“It is an upsetting thing to see expired medicine being sold to consumers and the even though the authority has fined and charged the offending institutions we are calling upon drug stores to be ethical,” she said.
Still people are using new strategies to profit from counterfeit items so she stated AFMHACA will continue working harder to make sure violators are prosecuted.