FDA cracks down on importers, fines 10 over unregistered products

Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)

…targets zero unregistered imports in the next 1 month

The Food and Drugs Authority has stepped up its import controls as part of on-going registration activities at Port Tema for all imported products.

The Authority has fined about 10 importers for failing to register their products before arriving into the country.

The fines range from GH¢50,000 down to GH¢2,000 for personal effects, and caught these importers of commodities such as rice, canned products and frozen foods – most being slapped with fines of between GH¢10,000 to GH¢2,000.

The Authority earlier cautioned that non-compliance with the directive will not be tolerated, when some importers pleaded with it to consider goods that were already on the high seas and extend the announced implementation from February to March 2021.

Head of Import and Export at FDA-Tema, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng, explained to the B&FT in an interview that under measures implemented in March 2021, all new products coming in must be registered.

According to him, unregistered products that are still trickling in are detained in warehouses and samples taken for analysis; and based on the risk they are either rejected or still detained until registration is over – and then the importer is fined for violating the directive if such be the case. The idea is to keep products off the market till the FDA pronounces that they are of the right quality and safe for consumption.

The affected importers who claimed not to be aware of the directive, Mr. Kwarteng justified as a result of the gap between importers and freight forwarders – describing it as a challenge and urging clearing agents to take a keen interest in updating importers on current processes in the port.

“We are on course; we gave a deadline of end of February. We are ensuring strictly all new products coming in that are not registered be duly registered.

“We are testing; we are keeping products in a neutral warehouse where the importer does not have control over them. We look at how risky the product is from the initial test, then we either destroy or repatriate them,” he said.

The Authority is currently undergoing re-registration of products that are already on the market as well as market surveillance, and expressed optimism of zero importation for unregistered products in the next one month.

“We have had not less than 10 offenders. It has taken some people 3 days to come out with some of these administrative fines. I believe they are so punitive that with time we should have no unregistered products at the port,” Mr. Kwarteng clarified.

Mr. Kwarteng therefore encouraged importers to take advantage of the registration in order to make their business competitive – adding that the FDA has made a lot of concessions on the fees and also enhanced its system for their clients.

Some importers affected by the fines spoke under the condition of anonymity to the B&FT, expressing their disappointment in their clearing agents for failing to inform them prior to the directive – since they trusted them to handle all the processes involving their imports for them.

The fines incurred, according to them, is an extra cost that will at the end of day be passed on to the final customers and consumers in the market in order to make up their losses.

” My clearing agent called to inform me that the FDA has imposed a fine on my consignment, so I have come here to find out why the fines. But I realised that my clearing agent had not informed me about the new directive, because he handles everything about my imports. A GH¢10,000 fine is a huge money, but I have no choice than to pass it on to my customers,” an affected importer lamented.

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