MUAR: The Health Ministry is mulling tougher penalties, including jail sentences, for those found violating the Food Act to ensure all food is safe for consumption.
Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said steps must be taken to ensure the people were not forced to consume unhealthy food.
He said over 21,000 food samples of various kinds were collected last year and more than 16% of 10,000 samples tested showed they had violated the food regulations.
We have taken many of the producers and distributors to court and collected more than RM200,000 in fines.
However, no one has been jailed and this could encourage others to sell, produce or distribute unhealthy food, he said at SK Simpang Jeram here on Friday.
Chua said the Cabinet had recently asked his ministry to beef up enforcement of food safety regulations.
He said he would refer the matter to the Attorney-General's office to consider,including jail sentences for those who violated the Food Act if the situation did not improve.
On the anti-smoking campaign launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently, Chua said the campaign focused on countering the perception among youths that smoking was glamorous.
He said it needed the support of other ministries, departments and agencies and the huge allocation of RM100mil over five years was aimed at promoting a no-smoking culture in Malaysia.
The people have been getting the wrong image of smoking. To some, it was seen as prestigious or macho.
We want to tell the people that smoking is hazardous to their health, he added.