Friday, 23 October 2009

Do you know what's in your belacan?

An interesting news article in yesterday's Berita Harian Online caught my eye. It is a classic example of misplaced priorities. It seems that a 56-year old lady from Terengganu, Puan Rahani Ali, has been found guilty of selling belacan (shrimp paste) that contained less than a specified amount of protein.

According to the Peraturan-peraturan Makanan 1985, belacan shall have a protein content of not less than 25%. The belacan packed and sold by Rahani has only 23.75% protein, and for that she was fined RM600 by the Dungun Majistrate Court.

The full article can be read at this link -> Pembungkus Belacan Di Denda RM600.

After reading the article a few times, I am actually surprised that the case went to court. To me, the District Health Officer should have considered the educational rather than prosecutional approach. I sincerely doubt the lady knew that there had to be a certain amount of protein in her belacan. Heck... I don't think she even knows what protein is! After all, she only re-packs and distribute the stuff. The belacan is made by someone else.

To be penalised for a mere 1.25% shortfall clearly shows overzealousness. Couldn't she have been let off with a warning? Would it not have been better for the District Health Officer to advise her on the correct thing to do? It is not as if consumers of the belacan would face nutritional problems because of 1.25% less protein content!

This episode is quite an eye-opener. It raises a lot of other questions. I don't think many of us know that there is such a ruling for the production of belacan. Apart from protein, what other minimum content requirements are there? What about salt content or other chemicals? Does the ruling apply to other traditional food items such as budu and cencaluk too?

Well, whatever it is, belacan manufacturers all over Malaysia should beware. The next time you the consumer, buy your pack of belacan, make sure the label carries the requisite nutritional information. Otherwise you may be buying something that is illegal.

15 comments:

3yearshousewife said...

I never knew that there should be certain percentages of anything in belacan. Anyway, some belacan doesn't even carry any label let alone nutritional information.

I think this it the case of the government appearing to be tough on the quality of food manufacturing and the they chose to prosecute the 'small fish' as an example to all. Poor lady.

anneaziz said...

Kesian Puan Rahani tu...entah-entah protein pun dia tak paham.

En Rani the officer who bought 3 pieces and sent the belacan for testing...CONGRATULATIONS! Now we can call him the BELACANBUSTER!

Saya... said...

misplaced enforcement...bodo betul lah

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Dear Oldstock,

When I first read this on the online news portal, I couldn't believe my eyes!! Tho' I'm deigned to dismiss this incident as being attributed over-zealous regulators, something sure smells kinda -- uhmm -- like a prawn under a stone *laughs*

NanaDJ said...

The poor lady! RM600 is a big sum for her. And she was not even aware that she has contravene with the law. To think there are bigger and blatant 'penipuan' and 'pembohongan' and they get away with it! It is this kind double standard and the unfairness that irks me so. The big pirahna and sharks seem to get away with everything all the time.

Snakebite said...

i hope they check the keropok lekor too, most keropok lekor nowadays taste more of tepung kanji than ikan

Kama said...

Kesian the old lady. I bet she didn't even know what hit her. Sometimes I think the powers that be have their priorities all wrong. Protein shortfall of slightly over one percent in belacan had her hauled to court tapi factories operating tanpa lesen, tanpa permit, employing illegals and mistreating them.. takder pulak nak prosecute.

Patricia said...

It's like they don't have any real work to do - that they need to go after little old ladies! Sigh. Words fail me lah!!!

Zendra said...

alahai rani... macam kera terkena belacan

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Makes me wonder why these supposedly law enforcement officers & magistrates don’t have any discretion when comes to carrying out their duties, just like most of u here would have. Alas common sense is not so common after all!

Oldstock said...

To all commenters,

I guess there no need for me to add to the points that you all have raised.

I did some scouting around yesterday and found the website of the Food Safety & Quality Division of MOH. Overall, they do very important work, except for this tiny belacan episode. I'm thinking of sending my views to them via their website. Let's see if we get any response.

Kama said...

Heehe snakey.. I soooo do agree with you; the quality of keropok lekor has deteriorated beyond belief. As a terengganu-born lass, I learned to make keropok lekor (we called them krepok gonde then).. generous with fishmeat and less so with tepung kanji. Nowadays i think it's the other way around...

Oldstock said...

Kak Kama,

On this subject of keropok gonde, many places in Terengganu claim to have the best. Some people say the one from Losong is the best but my personal preference is the one from Kuala Kemaman.

VersedAnggerik said...

do U know that there is also a Kooto Funds Act untuk makcik2 yg suka main kutu?

A short act which is comprised of less than 15 sections!

Dig that fact erk?

Oldstock said...

Verse,

And why do we need that Act, I wonder. Is it to protect the ordinary makciks from being swindled by the Head Kutu Makcik?

Pernah ada prosecution under this Act tak?