The government has established a special independent authority to conduct routine inspection and monitoring of products and food sold in restaurants and supermarkets across the country.

AIFAESA Coordinator Abilio Oliveira said a previous inspection service was established in 2009, but had not been effective.

The Coordinator of the Inspection and Monitoring Authority on Economic, Sanitation and Food Activities (IFAESA), Abilio Oliveira, said a previous inspection service was established in 2009, but it had not been effective due to a lack of coordination between the relevant ministries.


“The four ministries used to work on it, but now it is handled by one institution in order to avoid any confusion among consumers and vendors,” he said at his office in Matadouru, Dili.


He said the new authority consisted of representatives from the ministries of Health, Agriculture and Fisheries, Commerce, Industry and Environment and Tourism, Art and Culture.


The new authority will also coordinate with laboratories across the country and overseas to conduct food testing, with results to be made public.

As well as supermarket and restaurants, he said inspectors will also monitor local markets and fuels stations across the country.


Based on the law decree number 23/2009, which refers to administrative violations against the economy, he said vendors and supermarkets that sell rotten produce could face fines of $1000 and up to $10,000, while selling products past the expiry date may attract fines of $10,000 and up to $15,000.


Oliveira said the authority would carry out inspections and issue fines for any rotten products identified, including those past the expiry date. Those products would then be destroyed, while others of questionable quality would be sent to the laboratory for further testing.


Regarding community concerns about frozen meat products like chicken and fish sold at supermarkets, he said testing should be conducted in order to check the quality of the products, but currently Timor-Leste has no laboratory specifically for food testing.


He therefore called on the public to pay closer attention to the issue as 90% of products – including food – are imported from overseas.


Meanwhile, the National Director of Public Health, Pedro Cancio, said the role of the authority was very important in order to promote fair trade and defend consumers’ rights in the country.


“We hope that they will do the controls and inspection better,” he added.