JOHOR BARU: The discovery of fake baby formula being sold in Johor has sparked consternation among various quarters.
Concerns have since been raised on whether the problem is limited to just the southern state, and how to best tackle it.
The scandal came to light last Thursday when the Johor Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry seized 210 boxes of fake baby milk formula, worth about RM42,000, from five supermarkets and pharmacies in the state.
The five premises were located in Iskandar Puteri, Mutiara Rini, Taman Orkid, Nusa Bestari and Taman Daya. The raids were conducted after the ministry's enforcement unit had conducted surveillance for the past four months.
State Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry director Khairul Anwar Bachok said the enforcement unit was informed of the existence of the fake milk formula following a case involving a baby who had choked upon consuming the product.
He said a complaint was lodged with the product’s distributor.
“The fake milk formula was sold at RM200 per 1.8kg box, the same price as the original product.
“The items, seized from five stores and warehouse in Johor Baru last week, were estimated to be worth RM42,000,” he said. Samples of the seized formula have been sent to the Chemistry Department for analysis, with the results expected in two weeks.
Khairul Anwar said the authorities are still questioning a 50-year-old businessman, who is the owner of the five premises.
“The businessman claims he was unaware that he had been selling fake products in his chain of stores.
“Representatives from the product's distributor, who took part in the operation, managed to distinguish between the original pack and fake ones by examining the information on the packaging,” he said.
Meanwhile, Persatuan Pengguna Bijak Malaysia Johor chapter representative Chew Yong Song said he was appalled over the discovery.
He urged the authorities to conduct nationwide checks to determine if there were other cases of fake baby milk being sold.
“If it had been in the market for the past four months, then it is possible that the fake products could have reached other locations in the country,” he said.
Chew said the association has yet to receive any complaints about fake baby milk formula, but it will cooperate with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to check the warehouses in the future.
Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said that so far, there have been no reports conveyed to the authorities on any babies or infants consuming fake formula.
"If there are indeed cases, I urge the parents or guardians to report such matters. So far we have not received reports of infants getting food poisoning or falling sick (from consuming fake formula),” said Ayub.