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Feb 10, 2016

Importer Jack Charles Produces Lab Tests and Alleges Contamination

The documents from Eurofins Lab were accompanied by a press release – the one to which Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche makes reference. In that release, Charles admits that he commissioned the testing to see whether locally produced rice met the Standards Order 2015. According to Charles, “the concern arises from the aflatoxin levels and based on that it is a cancer causing agent and as such it is the responsibility of the Departments to carry out their roles and responsibilities to ensure the health of the nation. The liver is the principal organ affected, but high levels of aflatoxin have also been found in the lungs, kidneys, brains and hearts of individuals dying of acute aflatoxicosis. Acute necrosis and cirrhosis of the liver is typical, along with haemorrhaging and oedema. The importer ends his release by stating, “our intention is in keeping our sincere promise to Belizeans to be able to enjoy safe, wholesome, quality rice at affordable prices.” The Ministry of Agriculture is not impressed by Charles’ show of altruism, and neither is attorney Eamon Courtenay, representing the local rice producers. Via text today, Courtenay told us that, “the test results establish that Belizean produced rice is safe for human consumption. Mr. Charles’ press release amounts to a libel on my clients’ good name. This latest desperate attack by the importer is misleading and calculated to cause panic in the Belizean community. It confirms what I said that he will do anything in order to make a profit by supporting imported rice.” Late this evening, the Bureau of Standards issued a release saying that Charles is not recognized as a competent authority to conduct testing of any basic food item in Belize. And that, “the test results provided on February first, 2016, by Mr. Jack Charles shows that none of the rice samples analyzed contain detectable levels of aflatoxins and as a result does not pose any threat to human health.”

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