Documenting Unfit Food

If food is declared unfit for human consumption, it is considered a loss which is recorded in CARE’s warehouse and commodity inventory records and reported to donors in the same way as other losses. For marine losses, the amount of unfit food must be reported in the independent discharge survey report and Loss and Adjustment Reports. For internal losses, the amounts must be reported on the Loss and Adjustment Report. and, asappropriate, the Independent Delivery Survey Report.

Warehouse managers, storekeepers or others who suspect food may be unfit must promptly notify a government official and request a review and analysis of food.

Lab or Other Analysis

For both internal and marine losses, normally only a public health official or an authorized laboratory can declare food to be unfit for human consumption. If no health official is available, an independent chemist or private laboratory may be employed by either CARE or a surveyor to analyze the suspect food.

Samples for marine losses must be:

  • Representative of the total suspect cargo
  • Drawn jointly by CARE (or the surveyor) and the shipping company agent
  • Identified as to which samples came from which cargo
  • Sealed to protect the integrity of the sample
  • Forwarded to the laboratory or chemist.

Samples for internal losses must be:

  • Representative of the total
  • Segregated from any food that is in good condition
  • Identified as to which samples came from which shipments
  • Sealed to protect the integrity of the sample
  • Made available to the health inspector or other person for analysis.

Timeliness of Documentation Regarding Fitness

If the surveyor notes food was damaged onboard the vessel and the food is later declared to be unfit for human consumption, a cause-effect relationship must be established between damage and declaration of unfitness. The key to establishing this relationship is timing.

  • If cargo is damaged on November 20 and the same cargo is declared unfit for human consumption on November 25, the cause-effect relationship is strong and claims can normally be collected for such losses against the shipping company with minimal difficulty.
  • If the same cargo is declared unfit on December 15, the cause-effect relationship is less strong as the losses arguably may have occurred while the food was in CARE or its counterpart’s custody; the possibility of claims collection consequently decreases considerably.
  • If the damaged cargo is not declared unfit until January 15 and is in CARE’s or its counterpart’s custody, the cause-effect relationship is likely to be gone and there is little hope of claims collection.

In the latter two cases, CARE has not promptly or properly minimized damages and must submit a narrative statement explaining why damaged food was not properly analyzed and/or repackaged on a timely basis.

Certification of Commodities Unfit for Human Consumption

Once the food has been inspected and declared unfit, a Certification of Commodities Unfit for Human Consumption (see Attachment) must becompleted by the Health Authority or the private laboratory. The form mustbe signed, including the title of the signer.

The written statement or certification should include but need not be limited to the following information:

  • Name of the vessel, warehouse, or distribution site
  • Date of discharge from the vessel, arrival in warehouse, or firstsuspected to be unfit in warehouse
  • Date of examination of suspect food
  • Place of examination
  • Amount (bags, cartons, weight) of food examined
  • Amount of food fit for human consumption
  • Amount of food unfit for human consumption
  • Reason(s) why the food is unfit for human consumption
  • Advice as to whether food is fit for animal consumption
  • Advice as to whether food should be destroyed.

Donor Notification Requirements

  1. Marine Losses
  2. For marine losses the certification along with other marine loss documentation should be submitted to the Procurement Office CARE USA for U.S. Government donated food and to CARE Britain or Euronaid, or other donors for non-U.S. Government food.

  3. Internal Losses
  4. For internal losses, the certification must be kept on file. Notice and requests for approval to dispose or destroy unfit food must be obtained as required by donors.

  5. Delays in Notification
  6. Often food is declared unfit at remote warehouses or distribution sites Unfitfood can be sitting in warehouses for long periods of time while inspections take place and Loss and Adjustment Reports are prepared and authorized.

    Country offices should discuss this issue with donors and request approval to dispose of unfit food as soon as Loss and Adjustment Reports have been authorized by CARE. Donors can be notified of the disposition of unfit food in Commodity Status, Quarterly Consolidated and Quarterly Loss Reports.

Disposition of Food Unfit for Human Consumption

Once food is certified unfit for human consumption and donor approval has been obtained, unfit food should be disposed of in the order of priority shown in the following table:

Disposition of Food Unfit for Human Consumption

  1. Sale of Unfit Food
  2. Rules and procedures set forth in CARE USA’s Procurement Manual for Overseas Operations shall be applicable to all sales of unfit food.

    1. Solicitation and Receipt of Bids
    2. To minimize the possibility of impropriety and to maximize proceeds of the sale, a public tender should be issued whenever unfit food with a value greater than or equal to US$500 is sold. A tender involves soliciting sealed bids, usually through public advertisement (often through a newspaper or the posting of handbills in public places). If the offer cannot be publicly advertised, a sufficient number of parties known to buy damaged food for animal feed or fertilizer must be contacted to obtain the highest price.

      In general, notice of tenders should contain:

      • Description and amount of unfit food
      • Location and date to submit offers
      • Date bids to be opened and whether they will be opened in public or private
      • Deposit, if required.

      It is advisable to establish a committee of at least three persons to open the bids in the presence of the others. Ideally, members of the committee should come from offices separate from those involved in managing food resources.

      For example, a committee may consist of a project manager, financial controller and the assistant country director for administration and finance.

    3. Precautions
    4. When food is sold as animal feed or fertilizer, country offices must take measures to ensure that the local organizations do not re-sell the food for human consumption. Some suggestions for ensuring that unfit food is not resold include:

      • Inform the local police of the names of the organizations, dates and amounts of food purchased. Police enforcement, combined with clear instructions regarding punishment for those found selling unfit food for human consumption , may ensure that the food is not re-sold.
      • Begin a "public relations" campaign which informs the public of the dangers of humans consuming the food.
      • Have staff periodically go to the market to see if unfit food is being sold.
    5. Proceeds from Sale of Unfit Food
    6. All requirements set forth in the CARE Overseas Financial Manual, July 1992 must be followed when receiving and disbursing proceeds received from the sale of unfit food.

      Proceeds from the sale of unfit food must also comply with established donor requirements. Most donors allow CARE to retain a percentage of the sales proceeds for administrative and other costs related to the sale. Other donors reimburse for actual expenses incurred. This should be negotiated locally with the donor. In order to ensure that food is not purposely destroyed, most donors will only pay expenses for damages when proper efforts have been made to minimize or prevent damage. Examples of improper exercise of responsibility include storing food in a leaking warehouse without taking steps to stop the leaks, not fumigating as required,or transporting food without a tarpaulin during the rainy season.

  3. Donation of Unfit Food
  4. There are no specific guidelines by donors on the donation of unfit food to local governments, individuals or organizations, other than food used for animal feed. Country offices need to keep up-to-date information on programs which use unfit food and be satisfied that they are using the unfit food only for animal feed or fertilizer.

    Files should be kept of all communications relating to the donation of the unfit food along with copies of waybills which show dispatches to the organizations receiving the unfit food.

  5. Destruction of Food Unfit for Human or Animal Consumption
  6. Any food certified as unfit may be destroyed by burning or burying. Local populations may not understand or be aware that the food is unfit for humans and animals. Thus, it could be perceived that CARE is destroying food intended for project participants. If food is buried, there is also a risk that people may later dig it up.

    In destroying food, CARE must:

    • Make every effort to ensure that the local population understands that the food cannot be consumed by animals or humans
    • Make every effort to dispose of the unfit food as discretely as possible.

    Once food has been destroyed, a Certificate of Destruction (see Attachment) must be completed. The attached Certificate can be used as one example.

    The warehouse manager or storekeeper should keep a copy of the Certificate of Destruction on file with the related Loss and Adjustment Report and a copy should be sent to the Country or regional office commodity financial accountant and the Food and Logistics section for filing with their copy of the Loss and Adjustment Report.

  7. Use of Waybills to Remove Food from CARE Inventories
  8. The waybill and the authorized Loss and Adjustment Report are the support documents for removing the unfit food from warehouse inventories.

    In cases of sale or donation of unfit food, the Receipt Information section of the waybill would be signed by the person purchasing or receiving the unfit food. When food is destroyed, the warehouse manager, storekeeper and independent person/s witnessing the destruction should fill out the Receipt Information section of the waybill.

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