Reports that contaminated sugar may have found its way into the country should be cause for grave concern. Indeed, the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has confirmed it is conducting a safety audit on the quality of the sugar sold in the market.
The audit follows reports that Kenyan police had impounded hundreds of tonnes of imported sugar tainted with mercury and copper particles.
For their part, Tanzanian sugar manufacturers claim they have failed to sell some 80,000 tonnes of sugar largely because the domestic market is flooded with cheaper, illegal imports.
As if that weren’t enough of a drawback, the manufacturers also accuse unscrupulous merchants of repackaging cheap sugar imported for industrial use mixed with cheaper domestic sugar smuggled into Tanzania from a neighbouring country.
This illicit admixture is then sold to consumers at higher prices for as if it were the genuine article.
All that may be a real or false alarm, but it is better to err on the side of caution by being careful rather than taking risks or making otherwise avoidable mistakes.
In the event, Health minister Ummy Mwalimu directed TFDA to conduct investigations into the quality and safety of the sugar that’s currently on sale in Tanzania.
Tanzania’s safety, security and standards organs – including TFDA, the standards bureau, the revenues authority, police and the anti-graft bureau – must at all times be the nation’s eyes and ears in protecting consumers in particular, and Tanzanians in general.
Acting alone or in unison, the organs should not wait to respond to developments. This would amount to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. They must, instead, prevent – not wait to combat – malefactions.