Sun | Aug 20, 2017

BSJ says lead-tainted curry not currently a threat

Published:Sunday | January 8, 2017 | 1:00 AMTameka Gordon
Lorice Edwards Brown, CEO of the National Compliance Regulatory Authority.
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The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) says preliminary assessments indicate that curry powder produced by United States-based spice maker Oriental Packing Company Inc is not present on the local market.

The BSJ has been making checks on the heels of a second recall, in less than six months, of Oriental's products, by the US Food and Drug Administration, but said that so far it found none of the product on retail shelves.

Still, Lorice Edwards Brown, chief executive officer of the National Compliance Regulatory Authority (NCRA), an arm of the BSJ, told Gleaner Business that more conclusive checks will be made.

"As far as we are aware, the curry is not sold in Jamaica, but we are in the field right now doing further research," Edwards Brown said on Friday.

"We will try and see how soon we can get some definitive responses."

Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese also said the Jamaica Customs Agency had come across no evidence that product was either manufactured in imported to Jamaica. But, like the NRCA: "We are still doing checks," Reese said.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) in Connecticut, in a letter dated January 3, 2017, noted the second recall issued by the FDA on December 7, 2016, "due to curry powder that may be contaminated with lead".

Curry sold under the brands Oriental Hot Curry Powder in 50 pounds (bulk), Ocho Rios Jamaican Nice Mild and Spicy Hot Curry Powder in (4 oz) and Ocho Rios Mid Curry Powder (5 lbs) are being pulled.

Miami-based distribution company, Ocho Rios Miami Inc, sells Oriental's products in the US. The company also adds it label, Ocho Rios, to curry powder produced by Oriental, also for sale in the US.

NO CUSTOMERS IN JAMAICA

According to the Connecticut DPH, "The curry powder was sold through retail stores in Florida and Jamaica." But office manager of Ocho Rios Miami Inc, Donovan Chang, told Gleaner Business that Ocho Rios Miami does not itself sell to Jamaica.

"We don't distribute anything in Jamaica at all. We don't have any customers in Jamaica ... I was wondering if it was a mistake the DPH made in the release,'" Chang said, adding he would also be surprised if Oriental itself sends its products to Jamaica.

In August, GraceKennedy Limited announced the recall of batches of its curry products packaged on its behalf by Oriental and distributed within the US, Bermuda and the Bahamas. Concerns of lead contamination also forced that recall.

Lead can accumulate in the body over time and can cause serious and sometimes permanent adverse health consequences.

GraceKennedy has since severed ties with Oriental.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com