Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
AFTER YEARS of saying liquid eggs would be used as a substitute for the imported butter oil in the making of nutri-buns for the school-feeding programme, Cabinet has finally given approval for this to happen.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke said in the House of Representatives this week that although the use of liquid eggs would cost more, it would redound to the benefit of Jamaicans.
Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) last year indicated it was actively conducting tests on the use of local liquid eggs, with the hope of reducing the use of the imported butter oil by a third.
It was stated that if the tests proved successful, the shift would provide a ready-made market for the local egg industry.
In a special audit report this year, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said the cost of butter oil, a key ingredient in both the solid and liquid products, has increased by 104 per cent over the 2009 to 2011 period.
DISCUSSIONS UNDER WAY
"While NPL acknowledged that liquid eggs can be substituted for imported butter oil, to date the project has not been implemented. NPL indicated that they are in active discussions with the Jamaica Egg Farmers' Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to implement the project," Monroe Ellis had said.
However, following Clarke's announcement in the House on Tuesday that liquid eggs have now been incorporated into the school-feeding programme, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness urged the Government to reconsider the pace of the roll-out.
"There were concerns raised by the Ministry of Health representatives that the introduction of eggs could cause allergic reactions," Holness noted.
But Clarke said he understood there was no difficulty incorporating liquid eggs into the school-feeding programme.
"Working with NPL, they have indicated that they will not be putting 100 per cent of the liquid eggs into it. They would be putting, I think, 30 per cent, and it is satisfactory," Clarke said.
Holness, however, insisted that the matter was a serious one.
"I believe that the minister should take a second look because it was raised by the Ministry of Health that there are persons with allergies and you could not predetermine who would have an allergic reaction when it is placed systemwide in the programme," Holness said.