‘Dig deeper into food smuggling syndicate’

KOTA KINABALU: A task force should be set up to investigate the case of a major food smuggling operation that was smashed by the authorities in Sabah, says a consumer group.

Sabah West Coast Smart Consumers Association president David Chan said the case involving the seizure of RM33.6mil worth of frozen food should not be taken lightly.

“A task force must be formed to find out who is behind the syndicate,” he said during a media luncheon here yesterday.

Chan said there was the possibility that people with “important positions” were involved in such a major case involving a huge amount of frozen foods.

“The authorities need to find out if there are any loopholes in the law and how this was allowed to continue for so long,” he added.

He said the issue of smuggled food not only affects government revenue, but could also cause safety and health problems to consumers.

People may question the halal status of such smuggled food, he added.

He asked whether there were stringent checks along the line on frozen foods until they reach consumers, to ensure that they were safe for consumption.

“We don’t know how this food came in. What is the guarantee that the food sold and eaten meets food safety requirements?” he asked.

Chan said strict measures must be taken to ensure that food supplies are properly processed and imported according to Malaysia’s strict health standards.

He urged the authorities in charge of food security, exports and imports to get to the bottom of the case.

It was reported that police seized frozen food in a series of raids on several warehouses this month.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Idris Abdullah said that they believed the syndicate involved had been running the illegal operation for over the past 10 years.

The items seized included frozen chicken, chicken parts, nuggets and fish.

A total of 34 people comprising 33 Indonesians and a Malaysian were arrested in the raids around Kota Kinabalu and Papar between Jan 4 and 16.

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