The government should make it mandatory for supplements to be inspected and approved by the Health Ministry before the products are allowed to enter the market, Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) said today.
This comes following the ministry’s ban on three health juices – Jus Al Sunnah, Jus Al Sunnah Gold and Jus Al-Sunnah Penawar – produced by Sri Saga Marketing Sdn Bhd, a company which does not exist.
Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the only way to stop these products from being sold in the market was for the ministry to impose stricter regulations.
“As such, we ask that it be made mandatory for supplements to be inspected and approved by the ministry before they are allowed to enter the market.
“In the case of the Jus Al Sunnah products, the ministry also has to send out its enforcement officers to confiscate the products instead of waiting for retailers to hand over their stocks, and also to promptly withdraw all similar products from the market.
“We are extremely disappointed that the ministry is only doing this now which shows its lackadaisical attitude towards the people’s health and safety... There are so many things wrong with this Jus Al Sunnah situation,” he said.
Elaborating, Idris said the products had already been banned in several countries after they were found to contain steroids.
“Singapore had already banned the products in 2017. Brunei had stated clearly on June 9, this year on their website why the three Jus Al Sunnah juices as well as three other products manufactured in Malaysia were banned.
“CAP has also highlighted this issue to the ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division and Pharmaceutical Services Division in our letter dated June 27, this year. Why did the Health Ministry wait so long to ban these dangerous products?
“One might also ask how such dangerous products even made it into the market. The answer is that supplements are not classified as medicines and thus do not need to be inspected by the Pharmaceutical Services Division.
“Instead supplements are labelled as food products... Therefore any action is always taken after the products are found to have violated provisions of the Food Act 1983,” he added.
Idris said, even though the Health Ministry was the proper authority in this matter, at least in this case, other ministries should also be held responsible.
He added that the Jus Al Sunnah products were made to be marketed to Muslims.
“The name of the product itself, ‘Al Sunnah’, is a clear indication that the masterminds behind this venture had commercialised Islam to target Muslim consumers.
“More importantly Muslims look for the official Halal label on products to determine if they are permissible, and the Jus Al Sunnah products had the official label,” he said, noting that the official label could also be easily be printed on products to fool Muslim consumers.
Idris also wondered if the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) carried out spot checks to determine if the Halal label was really certified.
“Also, the Customs Department needs to answer how such dangerous products are allowed to be exported to neighbouring countries." he said.