Food safety: no labs, little testing, little action

fruit and vegetables

Following reports which confirm AD’s concern about the lack of accredited public laboratories to test fresh produce (PR17/11/2015 Food safety: priority zero?), AD reiterated its concerns of lack of investment in consumer testing laboratories.

Ralph Cassar AD spokesperson on energy, transport and industry said that only a limited amount of samples of fresh produce are sent abroad for testing in accredited laboratories for pesticide residues. The produce will have been already sold and consumed by the time test results are received, as confirmed by the consumer authority’s chairperson himself.

“Past attempts to set up a properly resourced and functioning national laboratory have repeatedly failed. Loads of equipment, now obsolete, bought through the Italia-Malta protocol remained in boxes and unused because of lack of staff, with poor pay failing to attract science graduates and technicians and a total lack of interest from government. It seems that the lack of interest in food safety by the Nationalists has been inherited by the present Labour government.”

“Minister Helena Dalli should pull up her socks on food safety. Government should come clean and tell the public whether the Minister’s budget is sufficient for agencies she is responsible for to carry out their duties properly. It is also a big shame that successive governments have not recognised the importance of having properly resourced laboratories in Malta, which will be able to provide timely information to avoid tainted produce getting to market.”

“It is also a shame that the opportunity to create jobs in a sector which is important to protect consumers, and to rovide career opportunitieto science technicians, analysts and scientists has been neglected for such a long time.”