Sunday, October 5, 2008


Switch to local food products, urges Yahya


Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin has urged consumers in Sabah to consider using more local products in the wake of the concern about melamine content in imported food products. “I urge Sabahans to give priority to local vegetables and fruits such as the highland vegetables from Kundasang because not only the products are free from chemicals, they are also cheaper than the imported ones,” Yahya said yesterday. Speaking to reporters after sending off Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib TunRazak, Yahya stressed that he was not telling people not to purchase imported products but to prioritise local products. This is an opportune time to switch to local products following reports that imported food products such as milk-based products, vegetables and fruits from China contain high levels of melamine, he said. According to him, local vegetables and fruits are not very different in terms of nutrition from imported ones. “In fact some are more nutritious and on top of that they do not contain chemicals which are hazardous to our health,” he added. Yahya also urged all the relevant authorities to monitor the import of food products, especially from China for the coming Chinese New Year festival which falls in January next year. On Saturday, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said that his Ministry has introduced a Level Four checking on fruits and vegetables imported from China following reports that the produce contain melamine. He said the decision was made following the revetation from the Korean Government that it had detected melamine in fruits and vegetables which were imported from China. Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry will cooperate with the Health Ministry to monitor the entry of agriculture produce from China to ensure they were not tainted by melamine. Its Minister, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, said although Malaysia imported agriculture produce from the country, it had so far, not received any report of melamine taint. “We import produce from China such as cabbage and oranges, especially during the Chinese New Year festive season... so, we will continuously monitor the situation with cooperation of the Health Ministry. He was speaking to reporters after attending a Han Raya Aidilfitri open house with civil servants and district education officers at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jeli in Jeli yesterday. He said consumers need not worry as vegetables in the local market were safe for consumption.