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The Mozambican government’s National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE) has warned all shops that, as from 31 March, the pre-packaged products they sell must be labelled in the country’s official language, Portuguese.
INAE inspector Veronica Duvane announced this at a Maputo press conference on Monday. “On 31 March, we shall launch an operation against all pre-packaged products that do not have labels in Portuguese. That is, all products sold in Mozambique must be labelled in the Portuguese language”.
INAE has previously complained about goods sold, particularly in northern Mozambique, that are labelled in languages such as Arabic and Chinese, without any Portuguese translation. But, if Duvane’s words are taken literally, this INAE decree might endanger imports of products from neighbouring products, notably South Africa, that are labelled in English.
She added that, also as from 31 March, INAE will take measures against all goods that do not obey government regulation on the fortification of foodstuffs. Thus all salt sold in Mozambique must be iodated, and other basic foods (maize and wheat flour and vegetable oil, for example) must be fortified with micro-nutrients such as vitamin A, folic acid and iron.
In September the Mozambican authorities banned the import of non-fortified basic foods. But there are believed to be many stocks of non-fortified foods, and the owners have been given until March 2018 to dispose of them.
Around 43 per cent of children in Mozambique suffer from chronic malnutrition. This is caused not only by an absolute shortage of food, but by a poor diet, lacking in key nutrients. Although the micro-nutrients are added to foods in very small amounts, and are usually consumed at a rate of less than 100 milligrams per day, they are critical for good health, For example, vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness and reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. Iron deficiency causes anaemia, and iodine deficiency can lead to goitres.
Duvane warned that, as from the end of March, INAE will withdraw from the market all goods that do not comply with the fortification rules. Such products should not enter Mozambican territory “and so we are working with the customs service”, she said.
“In some markets we have seen non-fortified products, and we doubt that they entered the country legally”, Duvane added.
INAE has also banned the consumption of alcohol inside the bottle stores or shops that sell alcoholic drinks. Duvane complained that bottle stores are only authorised to sell drinks, but in many cases have become bars. She added that their opening hours are supposed to be from 09.00 to 20.00, but instead they remain open deep into the night.
She also warned that no sale or consumption of alcohol is permitted within 500 metres of school. Any establishment within that radius that sells alcoholic drinks must either close down or find something else to sell.
Over the previous 15 days, INAE inspected about 700 establishments and ordered the closure of two of them, in the central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, because of hygiene and cleanliness. In Niassa province, INAE inspectors seized 70 sacks of cement because they were being sold to unsuspecting clients under weight.