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Presidential Secretariat ensures safety of rice stocks amid allegations, calls for thorough inspection

April 23, Colombo (LNW): The Presidential Secretariat has responded to allegations regarding the quality of rice stocks stored at the Veyangoda warehouse complex, ensuring that only rice deemed suitable for human consumption by an expert committee appointed by the Gampaha Divisional Health Services Director will be distributed in the meal programme for school children.

Responding to concerns raised by the Public Health Inspectors’ Union (PHIU) regarding the substandard condition of rice stocks, the Presidential Secretariat emphasised its commitment to health and safety standards in a statement issued yesterday (22).

Whilst acknowledging the allegations, the Secretariat highlighted that all rice stocks selected for distribution have been endorsed by an expert committee, relying on analytical reports from the Government Analyst’s Department and the Medical Research Institute.

However, amidst these assurances, there is criticism against the government for the need to respond to allegations in the first place, suggesting that adequate measures should have been in place to prevent such concerns from arising.

In response to the allegations, the Presidential Secretariat’s Partnership Secretariat for World Food Programme (WFP) Co-operation has instructed all Provincial Chief Secretaries to mobilise a team from the health sector to conduct a thorough re-inspection of the rice stock and ensure its safety for consumption.

They are also tasked with strategising to utilise this rice stock before May 01.

The statement outlined the rigorous protocol in place for the distribution of rice stocks, emphasising that senior officers from the Provincial Department of Education and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) must confirm its suitability for human consumption before release to the respective provinces.

Furthermore, to enhance health safety and food quality for schoolchildren, the Secretariat underscored the importance of inspection by PHIs and representatives of the School Nutrition Committee before distributing rice supplied by the WFP.

While reassuring the public of the quality and safety of the rice stocks, the Secretariat emphasised compliance with international food packaging standards and advised the utilisation of the rice before May 31.

In conclusion, following a comprehensive inspection representing diverse health sector considerations, the WFP has confirmed the suitability of the rice stocks, providing reassurance amid concerns.

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