Authorities in Tonga’s Vava’u seize and destroy expired frozen meat products

Disputes over expiry dates on meat boxes ended in a decision to seize and destroy expired cartons of meats on Vava’u in Tonga in the last week.

Neiafu Town Officer Vāvā Lapota claimed some cartons of meat arrived in Vava’u in what he described as “repacked” boxes.

He also claimed some of these frozen meat were expired according to their expiry dates recorded on the boxes but the business owners who purchased the meat insisted the dates showed the meat were still in good condition for consumption.

There had been claims the meat had been imported from the USA and their expiry dates had been written as month / date / year. This was not how abbreviated dates were normally written in Tonga in which they were sequentially written as date / month / year.

Lapota also claimed some of the meat appeared to have changed colours and showed signs of spoilage.

He disputed the meat at the wharf leading to a hold on its release while senior authorities were being contacted.

The meat and other expired goods, however, were released by Food inspectors.

The dispute finally reached the main office in Tongatapu and law enforcement officers went to the store owner last week and seized the disputed goods before they destroyed them, Lapota told Kaniva News.

The seizure came just within a week after another bust led to destroying of a large amount of canned foods, cooking products and expired goods in Neiafu.

Food Ministry CEO Dr Viliami Manu told TBC it is believed businesses sent their expired goods and sold them in the outer islands.

He said 30 cartons of chicken seized in Vava’u had their expiry dates written as 9/2/2020. He said the chicken boxes were imported from the USA and according to that country’s labelling expiry dates format on goods the chicken boxes had an expiry date of September/ Second of May /2020.

He reportedly said the Food Ministry has just assigned an inspector to join the Customs services at the wharf to inspect some of the imported meats and canned foods from overseas.


Photo Kaniva News Caption: Neiafu Town Officer Vāvā Lapota, Ministry of Food CEO Dr Viliami Manu