CONTRABAND sweets containing a banned gelatin-like subsatnce were seized and destroyed after being uncovered by council officials.

The illicit sweets containing Konjac were found by Monmouthshire Council officers at a food importer’s in Caldicot.

Grown in Asia, the starchy corn root is used in jelly fruit snacks, but has been banned in the UK owing to being linked to instances of choking, especially among children and older people.  

A Monmouthshire County Council spokesperson said: “A quantity of confectionery which contained the banned ingredient Konjac was found on a routine visit to a food importer in Caldicot. 

“The importer surrendered the products and they were disposed of at the importers expense. 

“Officers ensured the products were destroyed and could not be returned to the food chain.”

The discovery and destruction of the illicit treats – which were enough to fill a small skip – were reported in the authority’s annual public protection performance report. 

It states: “A substantial quantity (small skip full) of illegally-imported sweets were destroyed by officers who discovered them on a routine inspection.” 

The council’s performance overview scrutiny committee was told the environmental health team in the 2022/23 financial year – which finished in March – has now cleared the backlog, caused by the Covid pandemic, of inspections of “high risk” food premises – those rated from zero to three in scores displayed to the public or A to C in the council’s internal system – which is in line with the Food Standards Agency’s national recovery programme. 

The report said: “A full complement of staff towards the end of 2022 enabled the team to achieve this significant milestone.” 

David Jones, the council’s head of public protection, told the committee it is also intended to step up the food safety training offered to businesses as the service returns to more regular activity following the pandemic and the lockdowns, which saw many businesses temporarily close. 

The committee was also told that noise complaints rose during the year to 405 which was an increase from 388 in 2021/22. 

Of those 319, or 78.8 per cent, were closed within three working days which was a reduction on the previous year when 79.4 per cent were closed within the target while that figure stood at 85 per cent in 2018/19. 

Mr Jones said those could relate to long running complaints, such as work on the Heads of the Valleys road, to issues such as dogs barking or loud music being played on stereos. 

He said due to the nature of the complaints “you’ll never get 100 per cent performance because of those difficult cases.” 

Caldicot Labour councillor Jill Bond suggested the performance target for noise complaints could potentially be extended to recognise the difficulties in resolving them. 

Other work taken on by the public protection department, which has 35 staff, included inspecting all homes offered as housing or hosting for the Ukrainian refugee scheme with an officer ensuring they were “fit for purpose and safe”. 

Committee chairman Alistair Neill said the council’s leadership should note that Mr Jones’ report had highlighted “Services may struggle to take on any new statutory duties that protect the public and the environment, and therefore funding must be sought to support any new work.” 

Conservative Cllr Neill said: “We should have some concerns about that”. 

The service has a budget of £1.7 million but recorded a £113,431 underspend in the last financial year which was due to delays in appointing staff. Mr Jones said: “I think 23/24 will be closer to a cost neutral position.”