Recall of 375,000 cans of tuna (July 2001)
Assistance to National Fisheries Authority - October 2000
Human Corpse stored with fish (By anonymous 2004)
Maggots in cannery machines (By anonymous April 2004)
Madang Power Black Outs Cause Quality Problems at RD (By anonymous April 2004)
Stockpiles (By anonymous April 2004)
Dead Fishermen in Freezers (Oct 2004)
RD Tuna Ltd is investigating what it says are "fraudulent claims" by people to have found condoms in tins of fish. The company’s investigators were in Lae at the weekend to investigate the latest claim by a woman who said she found a condom in a small can of tinned fish last week. The company said this was the fifth such claim. Its investigators said that tests carried on earlier alleged finds pointed to condoms "being inserted into the tins after the tins were opened and not during manufacturing". The wife of a policeman at Bumbu police barracks claimed she found the condom in the tin of fish for her family’s lunch last week. She said she immediately reported the find to the Lae office of the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) which confirmed receiving her complaint and is investigating it. RD Tuna said it was willing to assist the ICCC in its investigations. The RD Tuna investigators said four separate cases of people claiming to have found condoms in their products had been made since 2001. Three of the cases were in Madang and one in Daru. The company said the tests and investigations it had done on the four earlier claims found that they were made "fraudulently. It said it had referred the people who made the claims to police but to date, there had not been any police action. In the latest case RD Tuna investigators took a heat test on an unused condom to see how the heating process employed at the factory affected the condom. After the heating the condom appeared larger and longer, compared to the one allegedly found in the tinned fish. A spokesman said they believe "certain people are simply out to destroy the company’s reputation".
Condom Found in Fish Can Post Courier 22/6/05 p8 By Jacob Potoura
Students and staff at the MilamilaVocational School in Duke of York Islands, East New Britain, claimed that they have found a male condom in a can of Diana tinned fish. School Manageress Katy Tasman said students last week found the lubricoated item when the opened a can of the product for dinner at the school mess. She said alarmed students took the contaminated can to her office and was kept in a freezer before it was bought to the Post-Courier office in Kokopo. “The school will not be buying Diana products as from now on when the remaining carton runs out”, she said. Mrs Tasman's husband, Tasman Dau, a former fisheries officer, called on the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) to carry out an investigation. “We condemn this because we are dealing with human beings and human life may be contaminated”, the Tasmans said. "We want ICCC to carry out full investigations into this matter". Leo Namun, a spokesman for RD Canners, the producers of Diana tinned fish, described the reports as "normal cause". He said similar allegations have been reported from Lae and the company was investigating them. "We will send investigators over to ENB because people may be trying to make up stories about our products" he said. RD Investigator Bernard Mingnaut said the investigations will include speaking to people and testing the alleged contaminated products. He said the product's cooking process was world class and claims that the condom might have been put along the assembly line could not be true. RD Tuna depot manager for Highlands New Guinea Islands region Joe Hendry said the incident was the first in the islands region. Mr Hendry said people who work in the factory wear pocket less shorts and the chances of putting a condom in a tin was very slim.
We started our campaign in early 2004, in coordination with our participants in the UK and Germany. Participating NGOs and churches solicited their members to survey local supermarkets for tuna cans that came from Papua New Guinea, a nation located north of Australia. This is where the RD tuna cannery is located, which has been the source of such controversy over its treatment of workers and its general "bribery focused"’ approach to dealing with village communities around the cannery. The information packet containing all the details was mailed off in March 2004.
We asked the participants to focus on off-brand tuna. Even if the tuna did not come from Papua New Guinea, we asked participants to record all details concerning distributors, etc., so that we can mount a more effective boycott campaign in the United States against the importation and purchase of tuna canned not only by RD Tuna Cannery of Papua New Guinea, but also the parent company’s canneries located in The Philippines. We received data for 171 tins of tuna found in supermarkets from 35 states. Only a few of these tins were found to come from Papua New Guinea, some with the specific RD canning code embossed on the lid. In general, most canned tuna imported into the USA seems to come from Thailand. That’s not even taking into account the very large tuna companies and main name brands (Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, etc), which we are told own giant canneries in Thailand.
Tins containing tuna of Papua New Guinea origin was found in 5 states: California, Tennessee, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Delaware. The following brands/distributors offered PNG tuna:
Food Lion brand, distributed by Food Lion Stores, headquartered in Salisbury, North Carolina (tuna found in stores in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina and Delaware)
· Geisha brand, distributed by Kawasho International (USA) of New York City, New York (tuna found in stores in the state of Nebraska)
· Western Family brand, distributed by Western Family Distributors of Portland, Oregon (tuna found in stores in the state of California).
The PNG tuna most often encountered (3 states) was the Food Lion brand, available only from Food Lion stores. One of the briefing papers noted that the Western Family brand did offer PNG-origin tuna in 2003. However, all tuna distributed under that brand this year came from the Philippines or Thailand. Thus, it is possible that this distributor is no longer importing PNG tuna, yet is continuing to import tuna from the parent company in the Philippines.
We learned that a particular brand of tuna sometimes sources its tuna from more than one country. That is why it was so important to look at each and every can in the supermarket. From the data we received from our volunteers, it was found for example that Food Lion brand tuna could come from Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji, or Papua New Guinea. Geisha (and Western Family) brand tuna is currently coming from Philippines or Thailand, as well as from Papua New Guinea. See the picture for the example of different sources for Geisha brand tuna.
Plans For 2005 We plan to contact more than 2 dozen known importers and distributors of canned tuna, including those which are not presently importing tuna from Papua New Guinea, providing them with the information packets that detail the operations of RD Tuna Canneries, and its connection to the Riviera family in the Philippines.
Using the PowerPoint presentation which our collaborator in Florida has created (includes many pictures from Papua New Guinea from their visit in 2003), we will continue to spread the word on the activities of this cannery. We hope to expand our group of churches and NGOs that will speak with a unified voice against these operations as they presently exist.
We hope to call for a general boycott of Papua New Guinea and Philippines tuna coming from the Rivera family canneries until which time as there is convincing evidence provided by verifiable independent assessors, that workers are no longer being exploited in the myriad ways we have been reading about.
Tuna on the left is what RD sells to the PNG and Pacific Islands markets. Tuna on the right is what they sell to the people of Europeans. Which would you rather eat? Tuna or Cat Food?
RD produce 2 types of tuna. The highly prized Yellowfin Tuna whose whitemeat is very juicy and in high demand overseas, is exported to USA, Japan & Europe. The Skipjack Tuna has a darker meat and is processed for domestic use in PNG.Bones, heads and offcuts are converted into fish meal and exported back to the Philippines.
There has been some controversy amongst PNG locals about the 'poor' quality of the 'inferior' product sold in PNG. Tuna are largely caught through drift net fishing which also means that a large portion of the total catch will be by-catch. Dolphins, Sharks and Stingrays for example are often included as by-catch. Most die in the nets before being landed on the fishing decks. By- catch was supposed to be shared amongst indigenous villagers but isn't. Much of the by-catch has been reported as being dumped at sea.
Tuna are off loaded at the Port of Vidar and then transported to the Siar cannery. At Siar there is a water problem with the canneries needs being supplied by two bores. Water sometimes has to be trucked into Siar due to shortages and the water supply has 'shut down' due to quantity shortages. Fish have to be sterlised before being canned through chlorinated water. Effluent pond discharge is also a problem.
Workers have concerns about potential spoilage of fish during the production process. Fish go into the hopper to be minced, but often is a fish falls off the tray and onto te floor, it is washed and then put back into the tray. Workers have been alarmed at the potential for contamination. Potential contamination may not show up when the canned fish is brought and eaten. Potential contamination could occur the longer the cans are retained on shop shelves.
Inadequate water supply from the only Bore Pump (Untreated water supply) places pressure on production quality standards and impacts on sanitisation. Sometimes the water supply shuts down at Siar. What impact does this have on quality of produce?
Workers have expressed alarm about hygiene matters at both Vidar and Siar. For instance at Siar there may be 1200 - 1300 employees per shift. Most of these employees are women. There are 13 toilet bowls and 3 handwashing basins at Siar for women. A recent survey revealed that 5 of these toilets were locked, meaning that 1200 women has access to only 8 toilets and 3 handwashing basins. For the men the situation was a little better with 4 toilet bowls, 2 handwashing basins and 3-6 shower cubicles.
Workers have reported that often there are no toilet rolls, towels or soap. At the RD Fishing facility at Vidar there were 3 toilet bowls, with two shower cubicles for 300 workers.or men and women. One worker stated “Very recently the company ran out of toilet paper. After using the toilet you were supposed to bend over a large sink, open the tap and wipe your ass with your bare hands. Before the toilets were built in June 2002, the toilet was built in surrounding bush.
Refusal Actions by FDA as Recorded in Oasis for Phillipines.
Celebes Canning Corporation. Gen Santos City, PH 1234. Tuna (albacore, yellowfin, skipjack etc) No process: Section 402 (a) (4), 801 (a) (3); Adulteration Charge: It appears that the manufacturer has not filed information on its scheduled process as required by 21 CFR 108.25(c) (2) or 108.35 © (2)
Recall of RD Tuna - due to packaging defect in July 2001.
FDA: US Food and Drug Administration 375,000 cans of tuna seized: FDA Tested - no contamination - cans were overfilled - returned to New Guinea for disposition.
A shipping container holds 1687 cases of tuna X 48 cans/case = 80,976 cans of tuna.
Cans were distributed to Felspausch Food Centre - Battle Creek Michigan. Felspausch/Spartan Canned Tuna Felspausch Chunk Light in Water Spartan Brand Chunk Light Tuna in Water Cans were imported by Purcell International. (Mr William E. Purcell - President).
Enterprise Marketing, Wyoming, MI sold shipping container of Tuna to Fels.
The Independent 20 March 03 p4
Europe opens doors to more PNG tuna
In December 2002, the European Commission (EC) approved the import of fish and fish products from Papua New Guinea to the European Union countries. PNG's quota of fish and fish products has been (1,000t) of canned tuna per year.
However, for the first year of agreement, October 2002 to September 2003, PNG has been given an additional allowance which means that PNG can export 2000 tonnes of canned tuna to Europe between now and September.
This access to the lucrative European market was made possible following an inspection of RD Tuna Canners' facilities by health inspectors from the EC. The inspectors reported that the conditions under which tuna is being handled, from the time of catch to delivery at the cannery, are of acceptable standards and the conditions at the cannery in Madang were found to meet the standards set by the EC.
In particular, the inspectors reported that "the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is capable of effectively verifying the implementation of the legislation in force".
This is a vote of confidence in the management and staff of NFA and is a further demonstration of the European Union's desire to support the institutional structures put in place by ACP member countries. The NFA will be required to issue an appropriate health certificate with each shipment of fish to Europe.
All fish packages will have to be clearly marked 'PAPUA NEW GUINEA' together with the registration number of the factory, cold store or freezer vessel.
The NFA has drawn up a list and supplied to the EC the list of approved factories, cold stores and freezer vessels. Any new list of fish factories, cold stores and the fishing vessels approved by NFA will be regularly supplied to the EC.
This announcement is timely and compliments the EU funded Rural Coastal Fisheries Development Project (RCFDP) which started in October 2002.
The RCFDP is designed to strengthen the participation of Papua New Guineans in the fisheries industry and create viable links between fishermen, processors and exporters.
LIST OF ESTABLISHMENTS AND VESSELS Dolly 888, Dolly 757, Dolly 767, Dolly 777, Dolly 778, Dolly 780, Dolly 889, Dolly 152 (RD Canners Pty Ltd). Dolores 831, Dolores 832, Dolores 827, Dolores 828, Dolores 829, Dolores 830, Dolores 834 (RD Fishing (PNG) Pty Ltd. 15 Freezer Vessels registered under Office Journal of the European Communities
Assistance to the National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea by Ms ****
The Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (NFA) urgently needed assistance to strengthen the capacity of the Audit and Certification Unit to be able to successfully audit fish exporting operations. This will help Papua New Guinea to meet the import requirements of the European Union for seafood products.
I was therefore hired by SPC to:
• provide technical advice and training for NFA’s audit and certification officers in appropriate audit and verification procedures for fish processing plants; and
• to assist with an audit of a large tuna cannery in Madang while providing advice on improving the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) implementation programme and documentation.
The terms of reference, and the activities undertaken in relation to each of them, were as follows:
• Help conduct training of the PNG NFA’s regulatory inspectors in appropriate techniques of auditing seafood export operations that will conform to international food safety standards. The training was held at NFA from 23 to 28 October 2000. The programme comprised lectures and discussions, and audit exercises at the fish processing plant and fishing vessel.
The course was designed to cover the areas of HACCP audit practices.
• Provide advice to NFA’s regulatory inspection team on establishing a full and effective system of inspecting seafood export operations. This was achieved through reviewing the fish quality control export standards and audit checklists of the NFA.
Comments were given to help improve the audit checklists and make them more practical and effective in inspection use.
On Saturday of the first week, explanation was provided to the NFA’s inspectors to prepare them for auditing the canning part of RD Tuna Cannery’s operation in Madang.
The advice included proper procedures for conducting the audit, what to look at and look for and how audits were done in Thailand.
• Assist with a full audit of a tuna cannery that will demonstrate to NFA regulatory inspectors the practice of verification and auditing in a commercial seafood export operation. This started with preparing the documents used in the audit: guidelines, standards, and checklists.
A full audit was then conducted at RD Tuna Cannery Pty, Ltd, one of the establishments exporting to EU markets. The practices of a proper audit were demonstrated.
Advice on good manufacturing practices for tuna processing and low acid canned food regulation requirements were also given to the NFA’s inspectors during the audit.
The audit was completed in three and a half days.
• Provide advice to quality assurance tuna cannery staff in improving their processing operations to meet PNG and international food safety requirements. The areas where improvements to a food safety control system could be made were identified and discussed with the quality control manager of the cannery.
Issues included good manufacturing practices for tuna processing and low acid canned food regulation requirements.
At the exit meeting, the audit report which identified all the serious deficiencies found during the audit was given to the cannery’s management. This report of the canning operation will lead to RD making improvements to its procedures.
I would like to express my appreciation to SPC for giving me this opportunity. Ms ****
The ACP-EU council has approved PNG’s request to export more processed tuna to the EU duty-free and recognises local company, RD Tuna Cannery, as meeting its stringent standards for fish processing and canning facilities.
Until now the EU had set a quota of only 2284 metric tonnes for PNG tuna exports.
Most PNG companies export fresh tuna direct to Japan or canned fish for the local market. Access to the EU market is expected to be a major boost to the fishing industry and is especially timely with cannery projects coming on line in Wewak and Madang.
The National Fisheries Authority is keen to increase the number of long line fishing vessels - an area of the sector restricted to Papua New Guineans
Human Corpse stored with fish (By anonymous)
Earlier in 2004, ****, a Philippino crew man (fisherman?) on RD’s catcher Dolly 832, died whilst the vessel was fishing out in the open sea. Captain of the vessel gave orders for the corpse to be thrown overboard, which order did not go well with at least one other Philippino crew/fisherman. That other Philippino threatened to take legal action against the captain of the vessel as well as the company, should the captain’s orders be carried out. The captain withdrew the initial orders and ordered instead that the corpse be wrapped in fish-net and canvass and tucked in/stored with the catch in one of the cold storages (deep freezer) on the vessel. Once the vessel reached shore, the corpse was taken out of the storage/vessel and sent off to the Philippines. This incident was disclosed by an eye witness and I wonder what the consumers of RD’s canned tuna inside and outside PNG will decide to do once they hear this amazing story.… .
Maggots in cannery machines (By anonymous April 2004)
Every Sunday there is basically no work at RD Tuna cannery. It is on this day that the machines are serviced by the various engineers. A few such engineers expressed how "terrible" that task of cleaning up is: it really stinks, you have to remove the worms (simple science teaches that those worms are in fact eggs/larvae of blue flies) which infest those machines, whether you like it or not.
Madang Power Black Outs Cause Quality Problems at RD (By anonymous April 2004)
Due to the terribly heavy rains and flooding in the recent weeks (three to four), there had been major and constant cuts in power and communication links here in Madang. The cut in power supply proved to be devastating mainly to the township of Madang, specially because two of the three main back-up generators were and still are out of service. Every sector of society (including government and private sector) that depends on power for survival and/or operation has been and still is experiencing great difficulty. The RD Tuna Canners and RD Fishing are no different in that the power cuts is greatly affecting their operations. Word is out that since the power cuts started, a lot of the tuna catch had gone bad and had to be disposed of because they could not be stored nor could they be processed or canned. Tonnes of such fish had been disposed of at the Meiro dump (in shallow pits) just outside of Madang town and adjacent to the Madang Teachers College. Settlers nearby helped themselves with whatever they could grab hold of from those pits (dump), thus creating more work for the town (and market) authorities who instructed the police to keep strict watch at the markets to ensure no bad fish are sold there. The fact still remains that for the last three days there has been literally NO power at all in the entire Madang township.
Stockpiles (By anonymous April 2004)
Undeniable fact is that there are containers upon containers packed with canned RD Tuna fish lying inside the fence on the side of the canning facility at Siar, all of them waiting for orders to come in from PNG and abroad. Unfortunately orders are NOT coming in and yet the containers are growing in number by the day, and could soon fill up the entire space. And then what??? Those with eyes can see, those with ears can listen and those with some sense can understand the message herein…
Dead Fishermen in Freezers (Oct 2004)
On Wednesday 27 of October 2004 at 2:45am RD Fishing Vessel 829 brought into Vidar Wharf a corpse of late Roy, a Filipino Radio man. According to the crews on Vessel 829, Roy hasn’t visited his Filipino family for 7 years since started working with RD Fishing. The body was kept safe from rotting in the same freezer and hatch in the vessel where the fish are normally kept. It is mere negligence in the part of the company as it can not distinguish between a human dead body and the fish we eat.
There was confirmation from RD Tuna crews last night that 4 Filipino death bodies were also put in the freezers of 4 RD Fishing Vessels previously and were lucky to have escaped from the Madang Police Criminal Investigation Division (CID) with the intervention of the IDAWAD Association for more investigation . These freezers were no different from the ones they use to store fish they catch every day before being transferred and discharged at the company’s Vidar Wharf. The dead bodies were in the following vessels numbered: 767, 888, 832 and 889.
The one on 767 died because of a speedboat accident. The ones on 888 and 889 died of stroke while 832 was transporting the one that got his neck chopped off by a winch wire (rigen). Regarding the latest deaths on Vessel 829, the IDAWADS/Kananams of Madang want and appeal to all of the RD Tuna product consumers to think for themselves before enjoying the canned tuna. This is absolutely true according to the IDAWADS/Kananam community and Madang Town Police. Feel free to contact IDAWADS of Kananam, P.O. Box 1081,Madang separately and STEVEN YARAMU-Officer Incharge (OIC)-CID Madang Province, PNG on Phone: 852 2189 from Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:06pm.