Home-based bakers anxious over ruling

  • Metro News
  • Friday, 20 Dec 2019

Low (centre) showing the health department labelling requirement for festive cookies with Chu (second from right), Lai (right) and Luu (second from left) during the press conference. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

PERAK home-based bakers and traders are taken back by the recent enforcement on labelling for festive cookie packing in Penang.

Many were left confused by the requirement as they were unsure whether it was being implemented nationwide or just in Penang.

Luu Mun Iya, who has been baking and selling home-made festive cookies for six years, said the ruling caused a lot of shops to stop placing orders.

“Some shops request that the containers for my cookies be labelled as per the requirement in Penang. This has caused orders to drop by about 40%.

“I was told that there were many procedures involved before I could place the labels on the containers, ” she said during a press conference held by Perak MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau chief Low Guo Nan at a biscuit shop in Ipoh.

“I need to first register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, get my cookies tested followed by other procedures that I am not even sure about. It’s an inconvenience, ” she added.

Luu, from Kuala Kangsar, said she bought a lot of ingredients to bake cookies for Chinese New Year.

“It has affected the industry. I have stopped baking for now and am not sure if I should continue, ” she said.

It was reported that the Penang Health Department had sent out a directive to enforce the labelling on food product containers detailing the ingredients used and nutrition facts.

Its director Dr Asmayani Khalib said home-made food products for sale must have the labels except for items that are weighed and measured in the presence of the buyers.

She said this was to address concerns about the health safety of consumers.

The Penang Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry had since said that home-based bakers were temporarily exempted from this ruling; and reminded traders on the need to label their products properly.

Another home baker, Chloe Lai, said she too was having second thoughts to continue baking.

“I have also stopped placing my cookies at shops.

“I don’t know what I should do if the shop owners get fined for not having proper labels for my cookies, ” she said.

Cookie seller Apple Chu said she had to take the products at her shop off the shelves following the new ruling.

“I have spent about RM5,000 on 10 boxes of these cookies from some bakers.

“I am now selling these discreetly to regular customers, ” she added.

“It feels as though I am selling pirated VCDs!

“I cannot send these cookies back and ask for a refund, ” she added.

Low said the government needed to be clear with its ruling before enforcing it.

“They should give the home-based bakers more time and educate them on what they need to do.

“With Chinese New Year coming soon, it has caused an unnecessary panic and affected a lot of bakers and traders, ” he said.

“We are aware that the Penang Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has clarified its stance that it will not affect home bakers but the health department has yet to make any statement on it.

“From what we gathered, it will be enforced nationwide and not just in Penang, so the government needs to clarify this, ” he added.

When contacted, Perak health, consumer affairs, civil community, national integration and human resources committee chairman A. Sivanesan said the ruling would not be enforced in the state.

He said the home-made festive cookies were only sold in small quantities and for a short period, compared to those being marketed commercially by bigger companies.

“I don’t see a need for it here.

“There have been no incidences of people having fallen ill after eating home-made cookies here, ” he said.

“There are lots of quantitative and qualitative processes, including laboratory tests, which can be a hassle for the small traders, ” added Sivanesan.

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