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The Flawed Reasoning of the Food and Drug Department

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With regards to the 1,100 pieces of Brazilian products seized by the Food and Drug Department on the grounds that they were not labeled in English, this publication called the Food and Drug Department on Friday, 23rd of July, 2021. We positioned that the Food and Drug Regulations in Part 5 (Cosmetics) no where states that cosmetics must be labeled in English to be imported into or sold in Guyana. The person on the line (222-8859), who identified herself as “Ms. Duncan,” responded that in Chapter 3 (Drugs) it states that drugs must contain adequate directions for use in English.

This reasoning is flawed and does not hold up to scrutiny since the rules for Drugs cannot automatically apply to cosmetics. It must be expressly stated. Further, the Food and Drug Department has no evidence that these products were being sold to English speaking Guyanese since they were seized from a storeroom inside of a house – not on display at a shop or elsewhere.

We further argued that there are thousands of Brazilians whose native language is Portuguese residing in Guyana and that the products were marketed to that group of people who can read Portuguese. Further, Portuguese is taught in the schools of Guyana and there are therefore many qualified teachers and students who can purchase these products since they understand what is on the label. Ms. Duncan responded that, notwithstanding, the products must be labeled in English since Guyana is an English speaking country – even though it is not expressly stated in the law.

What law enforcers need to understand is that laws were written to be interpreted to the letter, and not how you feel it should be interpreted. Further, you cannot add or subtract from the law. For example, if the law states that “Cadbury chocolates should not be sold,” then that rule only applies to “Cadbury Chocolates” and not “Charles Chocolates” or any other chocolates. More than likely, while creating the regulations, the lawmakers decided not to stipulate that cosmetics must be labeled in English because they determined that it would be problematic or unnecessary to do so.

The next question for the Food and Drug Department is “Why not set up systems in place at the Customs Department in Lethem to block these products from entering in the first place?”

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