Neiafu Town Officer Vāvā Lapota, Ministry of Food CEO Dr Viliami Manu

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Disputes over expiry dates on meat boxes ended in a decision to seize and destroy expired cartons of meats in Vava’u on Tuesday.

Neiafu Town Officer Vāvā Lapota claimed some cartons of meats arrived in Vava’u in what he described as “repacked” boxes.

He also claimed some of these frozen meats were expired according to their expiry dates recorded on the boxes but the business owners who purchased the meats insisted the dates showed the meats were still in good condition for consumption.

There had been claims the meats had been imported from the USA and their expiry dates had been written as month / date / year. This was  not how abbreviated dates were normally written in Tonga in which they were sequentially written as date / month / year.

Lapota also claimed some of the meats appeared to have changed colours and showed signs of spoilage.

He disputed the meats at the wharf leading to a hold on its release while senior authorities were being contacted.

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The meats and other expired goods, however, were released by Food inspectors.

The disputes finally reached the main office in Tongatapu and the law enforcement officers went to the store owner this week and seized the disputed goods before they destroyed them, Lapota told Kaniva News.

The seizure came just within a week after another bust led to destroying of a large amount of canned foods, cooking products and expired goods in Neiafu.

Food Ministry CEO Dr Viliami Manu told TBC it was believed businesses sent their expired goods and sold them in the outer islands.

He said 30 cartons of chicken seized in Vava’u had their expiry dates written as 9/2/2020. He said the chicken boxes were imported from the USA and according to that country’s labelling expiry dates format on goods the chicken boxes had an expiry date of September/ Second of May /2020.

He reportedly said the Food Ministry has just assigned an inspector to join the Customs services at the wharf to inspect some of the imported meats and canned foods from overseas.

As Kaniva reported on April 22, a complaint from the Neiafu town officer has led to seizures of expired goods from a number of  convenience stores.

We also reported claims businesses in Neiafu hid their expired goods in other places when authority inspected their stores.

Before that instance we reported that around 400 boxes of rotting chicken have been destroyed in Vava’u after authorities inspected a refrigerated container at a Chinese shop in Neiafu in February.

Bags of expired flours and rotting salted beefs were previously found at this store before the February bust.

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