The St. Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS) Thursday said there had been no evidence of “food fraud or fake /plastic cheese” on the local markets following complaints about the quality and authenticity of cheese sold here.
The SLBS said that it had carried out conformity assessment analyses at selected retail outlets in response to the complaints using samples of pre-packaged cheese as well as bulk cheese which are repackaged locally for sale.
“The analysis was conducted in accordance with internationally accepted test methods for the following principal parameters of interest: milk fat, moisture, yeast, mold and total coliform,” it said, adding that the authenticity of the cheese products was verified against the requirements of the international CODEX Standards for Cheese, CODEX STAN 283-1978 General Standard for Cheese and CODEX STAN 263 – 1966 Codex Standard for Cheddar.
“The conformity assessment confirmed the authenticity of random samples which represent a segment of the products on the market. Results showed no evidence of food fraud or fake /plastic cheese,” the SLBS said, adding however that “the results indicated adverse analytical findings for the parameters of yeast and mold in products that were repackaged for sale while there were no adverse analytical findings in the samples of pre-packaged cheese with all parameters within acceptable limits”.
The SLBS said that unacceptable levels of yeast and mold in the cheese are indicative of poor storage and handling practices which can occur from processing, storage, distribution and final handling by the consumer.
“SLBS will continue to monitor the compliance to standards of food products on market based on determined risk levels. Retailers have been advised of the Draft findings and recommendations for addressing the incidents of yeast and mold in repackaged cheese.”
It said it also wanted to remind the public that food handlers play an important part in ensuring food safety and would continue to promote training and awareness of food safety and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) for food handlers to mitigate the risk of food borne illnesses.
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