RANGOON — A number of chili powder brands popular among consumers were found to be contaminated with Aflatoxin B1, a potent carcinogen, according to the Rangoon branch of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA under the Ministry of Health and Sports carried out a survey on 651 generic and name-brand chili powders sold wholesale and through retail markets since September. It found toxic levels of Aflatoxin in 60 percent of the samples.
Among the well-known brands found with the toxin were Myo Ma Sin Phyu Taw, KSS, Bote Sone Ma and Daw Htwe, most of which have been sold on the market for almost a decade. Chili powder is used in daily cooking by many Burmese people.
“We have tested samples from 15 areas. Forty percent of them were free from Aflatoxin. As for the branded products, we warned their producers through our state and divisional branches. As for generic products, we informed the concerned markets,” said director Daw Khin Saw Hla of the Rangoon FDA branch.
The FDA has told producers to recall their products from the market while authorities seize the contaminated chili powder.
“We held a workshop with chili powder producers on Dec. 10. We explained the procedure for obtaining a [safety] certificate from us [FDA]. But for the time being, they have to recall all their [contaminated] products from the market,” Daw Khin Saw Hla said.
Of the 651 samples surveyed, 75 were brand names and the rest were generic. Of the 75, only 15 brands were registered with the FDA.
U Ko Ko Tun, owner of the tainted chili power brand OK Tun, stated it was likely that the chili pepper seeds were contaminated during the cultivation process.
“The major problem local farmers face lies in the seeds. Chili powder producers are considering buying from India instead of local farmers. If so, local farmers will suffer. We need technology to solve this problem,” he said.
The Ministry of Health, producers, the department of agriculture and growers need to come together to solve this problem, he added.
The Rangoon branch of the FDA surveyed 17 brands found in its local markets and found all 17 contained Aflatoxin B1. Of the 17, 11 are registered with the FDA.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko