RWANDA – Rwandan authorities have seized counterfeit, substandard and expired products worth over USD 39,131.47 from shops in different parts of the country.

The two-day operation code named OPSON XI, was conducted by the Rwanda National Police (RNP), Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (RFDA), Rwanda Inspection and Customer Protection Authority (RICA), Rwanda Association of Manufacturers (RAM), Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and Private Sector Federation (PSF).

OPSON XI is part of a series of operations organized by Interpol since 2011 on an international scale that targets counterfeit, substandard foods and beverages.

The impounded products include Blue Band, honey, alcoholic and soft beverages, biscuits, powdered milk and food flavors. Other products were poorly packaged, including meat, fish as well as locally produced illicit brew.

Peter Karake, the Director General in Charge of Crime Intelligence and Counter-terrorism at RIB, said that 10 people were detained in the operations and more than USD 64,891.38 fines were imposed.

According to Lazare Ntirenganya, the Division Manager Pharmacovigilance and Food Safety Monitoring at Rwanda FDA, out of 430 production plants and pharmacies visited during the operations, 99 of them either had no license or were operating on an expired license.

“About 116 types of foodstuff found on the market are not registered and unauthorized to be sold in Rwanda. 172 different types of foodstuff and alcoholic drinks were expired such as juice, milk and Blue Band. We also found some alcoholic beverages such as Kibamba and Tangawizi had methanol and other ingredients, which are dangerous to human consumption,” he said.

The samples were taken to the laboratories to determine their quality and standards.

RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police John Bosco Kabera said that OPSON supplements usual police operations to protect people from harmful goods and to prevent substandard products from penetrating the Rwandan market.

“Similar operations were conducted in March and October last year, and here we are again today with big quantities of assorted substandard, counterfeit and expired products. We have communicated this time and again but it seems some people have decided to intentionally ignore the policies, rules and laws, which cannot be tolerated,” he warned.

At least 11 people died last year after drinking an illicit brew called Umuneza. CP Kabera reminded the public to be against such harmful products.

“Be vigilant, check the packaging to see if the product you are buying is not expired; report substandard, expired or smuggled goods. Those selling these substandard products should not things that operations have stopped. This is part of the day-to-day police operations, so they should not think that they are safe to continue to produce and sell these harmful products,” CP Kabera warned.

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