Saturday, September 22, 2012

No more RFID for bird’s nest By JOSEPH SIPALAN

PUTRAJAYA: China has agreed to set aside the mandatory use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on bird's nests exported by Malaysian swiftlet farmers from the protocol of entry of bird's nests into China.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar said China's General Administration on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine accepted Malaysia's request for the removal of the mandatory requirement, following protests from associations representing swiftlet farmers.

The Chinese authorities however insist that we have a mechanism to manage the traceability of bird's nests produced in Malaysia right from the farm, he told a press conference at his office here yesterday.

With the removal of the mandatory use of RFID, swiftlet farmers now have the freedom to use any of three traceability systems recognised by the Government.

This includes RFID, barcode and quick response or QR code.

Noh said they would also set up an advisory board, made up of representatives from his ministry and associations representing swiftlet farmers, to make sure communication lines remained open between both parties.

On the issue of exporting raw uncleaned bird's nests to China, the minister said this would only be raised in a new round of discussions with the Chinese Government as the current protocol of entry which is expected to be signed on Sept 19 in Naning, China only covers raw cleaned bird's nests.

Noh also slammed a group of swiftlet farmers who are refusing to accept the Government's solution to China's current ban on Malaysian bird's nests.

“If they cannot even accept this (new arrangement), then it is clear that they simply want this industry to fail,” he said.

Some 250 tonnes of Malaysian bird's nests were exported to China before the country imposed a ban in July last year after finding high levels of nitrites.

However, in April this year, the Chinese authorities signalled that they might lift the ban after setting conditions, which included a nitrite content level not exceeding 30 parts per million.

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