Aflatoxin levels in Thriposha at barest minimum – SLTL Chair

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Chairman of Sri Lanka Thriposha Limited (SLTL), Deepthi Kularathna, reassured pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers that they need not fear that the Thriposha they receive from MOH offices, is contaminated with aflatoxin at a harmful level for humans.

Addressing the media at the Department of Government Information yesterday (22), he said, “All samples of maize were tested, prior to production and after production of the ‘Thriposha’, for the harmful substance.” He lamented that he did not understand why such a derogatory report had been given to the media.

All data is collected before distributing the stocks to the Regional Directors of Health, from where it was redistributed to the MOHs under them. “The PHIs based in those MOHs can monitor the stocks that arrive and should there be any issue regarding the quality, they can inform the Company and dispose of it. He said that some 245 of 451 stocks given to the Colombo Municipal Council, 99 of 250 given to Puttalam and 202 of 239 given to Gampaha MOH areas had been withdrawn when they were about to exceed their shelf life.

Responding to questions regarding the laboratory reports, which had tested positive for a high level of aflatoxin in Thriposha, he noted that the samples had been obtained before August when there had been an issue regarding the billion parts per particle of the carcinogenic substance in the supplementary food. That too only one of seven samples that had been obtained had aflatoxin in it, he claimed.

Kularathna noted that from 26 August 2022 to 11 September 2022 the Thriposha factory had received 33 containers of maize of which only 21 had been accepted while the remaining had been rejected due to aflatoxin levels.

Explaining, he said that production of the supplementary food given to infants, children below five years and pregnant and breast feeding mothers had dropped by November 2021 with the inability to obtain raw materials – maize in particular. “We have not received maize stocks which have 01 part per billion and five parts per billion levels of aflatoxin in them since end last year. Thriposha that is prepared at present is for its adult consumers namely pregnant and breast feeding mothers.

The Chairman of SLTL said that with the banning of maize importation in 2021 local maize cultivators had been called on to produce enough stocks to provide the grain for human and animal consumption. However, the former President later granted permission for the importation 10,000 MT of maize. The company was in a predicament that year with the pandemic and the issues that cropped up at the container terminal in the port. He said that the supplier had terminated the provision of maize when the imported stock was found to be contaminated with a high level of aflatoxin.      

By Dilanthi Jayamanne