Indonesia struggling with ‘unregistered’ imports, says regulator

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food products Supermarket Food

Indonesia is facing a potentially hazardous food safety crisis, after regulator officials revealed many unregistered food imports are being sold in supermarkets across the country.

According to the National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency, locally known as Badan POM (BPOM), separate inspections last week revealed numerous unregistered food products at two supermarkets in Jakarta.

Lucky Slamet, head of the BPOM, said the practice showed that retailers have little regard for the safety of their customers.

She stated her disappointment at retailers’ reluctance to get the required distribution permits needed to ensure that products they sell to customers are safe.

“Illegally distributed foreign food products continue to flock to local markets even though we have imposed strict regulations to control the importation of, and the sale of, the imported products,”​ said Slamet. 

Safety check

In one inspection at the New Seoul supermarket, BPOM officers found 136 brands of food products without distribution permits from the regulator – most of which were illegally imported from Korea.

During the inspection, they confiscated a total of 1,729 food products totaling US$4,500 or 45 million rupiahs.

An inspection at another supermarket resulted in the confiscation of 3,000 food products from 200 food brands, worth US$17,000 or 300 million rupiahs – this time mostly from the US.

Permit required

According to the BPOM, more than 80% of food products sold in local markets are categorized as low-risk food products, such as candies, biscuits, chocolates, sweet-soy sauce, syrup and instant noodles.

Indonesian laws state that all food products distributed and sold by retailers must bear a product distribution permit.

The BPOM has been offering an online registration system for low-risk products, with each registration costing costs around US$5 to US$40.

“With completed documents, each registration takes only seven days. The registration is also very cheap, so there is no reason for them to fail the procedure,”​ said Roy Sparringa, BPOM’s deputy chief for food safety and hazardous substance control. 

As per Indonesian law, retailers distributing food products without the required permits can face up to three years in jail and a US$40,000 fine.

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