BUKIT MERTAJAM: The belacan (shrimp paste) processing factory in Permatang Pauh with maggots found in some of its unprocessed belacan, has been closed for 14 days till Dec 6, pending investigations by two departments.
The state Health Department is investigating the content of the belacan, while the state Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Mi-nistry is looking at its labelling, which resembled the brand name of another registered belacan product.
State Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman P.K. Subbaiyah said 95kg of belacan samples were sent to the department’s food quality control laboratory in Butterworth for analysis.
“The analysts there will run tests to find out if the belacan samples contain high levels of metal and rhodamine B, a type of colouring agent.
“We want to determine if the belacan is fit for sale and consumption,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Last Friday, rats, cockroaches and maggots greeted 15 officers from the state Health Department when they raided the factory located in a remote kampung house near here.
Subbaiyah said 5,000kg of unprocessed belacan worth RM50,000 were seized from the premises and later destroyed.
He said if the belacan were found to be adulterated, the owner could be charged under Section 13B (4) of the Food Act 1983, which carries a maximum fine of RM20,000 or five years’ jail, or both.
State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcement unit chief M. Gunaselan, when contacted yesterday, said his officers seized 2,782 packets of belacan in various sizes from the same premises last Thursday .
“We seized these packets following complaints that it used a similar brand name of another registered belacan manufacturer.
“We also seized four moulds, empty packaging boxes and a mixer from the premises,” he said.
Gunaselan noted that some members of his team of 15 enforcement officers vomited after they entered the premises as they could not stand the terrible pong inside.
He said the owner would be charged under the Trade Description Act 1972 for using false trade description, which carries a maximum fine of RM100,000 or three years’ jail or both.