Venezuela seizes food plant owned by US company

May 16th, 2009 - 3:20 am ICT by IANS  

Caracas, May 16 (DPA) The Venezuelan government Friday took over a food-processing plant owned by US food giant Cargill, arguing that it had violated state rules for the production of goods with regulated prices.
Deputy Food Minister Rafael Coronado headed the move on the pasta-processing plant in the coastal state of Vargas, near Caracas, and said the seizure was temporary.

Coronado said the measure was adopted in response to the violation of a presidential decree establishing quotas for manufacturing, distribution and commercialization of 11 basic food items, including pasta and rice.

Under the rules, 70 percent of each plant’s pasta must meet the government standards for manufacture, distribution and commercialization, with only 30 percent allowed to be made outside that framework.

Coronado said authorities had inspected Cargill’s facilities in Caracas Thursday, to establish whether they were abiding by the law in terms of production, price, characteristics and product presentation.

They found that 80 percent of the pasta in stock fell outside the regulations, with only 20 percent of the regulated variety, Coronado said.

The plant was set to be occupied for 90 days. The authorities would seek to make sure from Monday that the plant production is in line with legal requirements.

Coronado said that the state and private companies alike have a duty to provide the population with quality products at fair prices. According to Coronado, measures adopted by the government seek to guarantee food security and to prevent food scarcity.

In March, the Venezuelan government nationalized a rice-processing plant that belonged to Cargill in the western state of Portuguesa, also arguing that the transnational was not producing regulated goods.

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