Jakarta. The National Drug and Food Control Agency, or BPOM, have seized Rp 3.9 billion, or $279,000, worth of damaged, expired or illegally sold food and drink products during a series of inspections ahead of the end-of-year holiday season.
BPOM head Penny Lukito said throughout December the agency had found over 188,000 packaged foods and drinks – sold under more than 5,000 brands – that were unsafe or unsuitable for consumption.
The discovery was made during the BPOM's annual Food Control Intensification program that will run until next month.
"There's always more demand for processed foods near the holiday season. Some people are trying to take advantage of it," Penny said.
She said the agency found 96,000 illegally sold packaged food products, 81,000 packaged food products that have gone past their use by date and 11,000 food products with damaged packaging. Cans had dents or are rusty and plastic packaging had holes or was leaky.
Most of the damaged foods and drinks were found in Bengkulu, Banten, Gorontalo, Riau, Bali, Central Sulawesi, Central Java, Lampung and North Sulawesi.
The products ranged from dried tea leaves and instant seasonings to soft drinks and bottled mineral water.
"Most of the illegal products were food additives such as butter, flavor essence, food coloring, food extender and other additives commonly used to make snacks and drinks popular during the holidays," Penny said.
Expired foods and drinks were found in South Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, Bengkulu, Southeast Sulawesi, West Papua, North Maluku, West Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Aceh and South Kalimantan.
These included powdered drink mixes, instant seasonings, coffee, soft drinks and flour.
"Food products with damaged packaging were mostly found in South Sulawesi, West Papua, West Nusa Tenggara, Aceh, South Kalimantan, Bengkulu, West Sulawesi, North Sumatra and Bangka Belitung. They included instant coffee, candy, sweetened condensed milk, soft drinks and flour," Penny said.
BPOM has ordered stores to remove unsafe foods and drinks from their premises and stop stocking them again.
"We could mete out punishment to the stores that refuse to comply, starting from administrative sanctions to legal charges," Penny said.
This year BPOM surveyed around 2,600 stores, and around 1,152 or 43 percent of them were found to have sold unsafe and illegal products.