The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the Ministry of Health to ban animal based L cysteine and impose mandatory labeling of this substance in products sold in Malaysia.
According to the 11th Schedule of the Food Regulations 1985, the use of L-cysteine is allowed in wheat flour and high-protein flour for bread-making.
Malaysian delicacies such as bread, roti canai, roti jala, puri and pau which are made from flour could contain L- cysteine, a food additive that is derived from human and animal sources such as hair, feathers bristle and hooves.
We refer to the statement by Datuk Dr. Kamarudin Md. Isa, Director-General of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), which appeared in the dailies on May 16th 2016. Dr Kamarudin had said that ‘there are no plans to ban the use of antibiotics in the poultry industry’ as ‘no scientific research has proved that humans can suffer negative effects of antibiotics from eating meat’.
Since the United Kingdom’s 1969 Swann Report, hundreds of studies over the last few decades have shown links between the use of antibiotics in animal food production, the development and spread of antibiotic resistance and resulting human infections and even deaths.
In 2008 in China, melamine was illegally added to some powdered milk and related dairy products including infant formula.
Melamine is an industrial chemical used mainly in the production of plastics, primarily for counter tops, utensils, fabric, adhesives and flame retardants.
And why was melamine added to the milk and infant formula? To increase the nitrogen content of the milk and therefore its apparent protein content! Water had been added to the raw milk to increase the volume but this resulted in diluting the milk, leaving it with a lower protein concentration.
The furore over the banning of shrimp and prawns from Malaysia by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) because it contained banned antibiotics drew bizarre responses some bordering on the absurd.
The fact is the two antibiotics Chloramphenicol and Nitrofurans are banned for use in Malaysia since 1985. Yet they continue to pop up in our farmed fisheries and farmed meat products.
Restrictions or outright bans on the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) exist in many countries worldwide. Yet Malaysia has approved eight genetically modified (GM) maize/corn products and six GM soybean products for food, feed and processing purposes. Besides these, approvals have also been given for the field trials of GM mosquitoes, papaya, and release of GM products for use as pesticides and fertilizers. Most Malaysians are unaware of these approvals.
These approvals have been issued by the Department of Biosafety in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment under the National Biosafety Act 2007. The approved GM products for food, feed and processing have different traits, namely insect-resistance and herbicide-tolerance. However, these seemingly innocuous uses hide a multitude of risks that have not been addressed by the authorities adequately in spite of concerns and opposition raised by civil society groups including the Consumers’ Association of Penang, which have cited supporting scientific evidence. These risks include health, environmental, social, ethical and cultural concerns.