People pouring hundreds of dollars for products which should have never made it to store shelves – Consumer Council

People pouring hundreds of dollars for products which should have never made it to store shelves – Consumer Council

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 14/02/2023
[Photo: File]

Unhygienic conditions, expired goods, unmerchantable products – these are becoming a common sight among food and drink retailers.

This has been revealed by the Consumer Council of Fiji after an analysis of consumer complaints coupled with regular surveillance and spot checks.

It has also been revealed that consumers are pouring hundreds of dollars for products which should have never made it to store shelves.

Chief Executive Officer, Seema Shandil says many traders continue to defy food safety regulations and were found retailing expired food items, tampering with expiry dates, selling prohibited food items, selling priced control items above regulated price and food establishments preparing food in unhygienic conditions.

Shandil says addressing complaints relating to food and drinks is on top of the council’s priority list, given that these products end up on consumers dining table.

It has been noted that most businesses in breach of consumer protection laws were repeat offenders.

The Council has referred repeat offenders to the Municipal Councils and the Ministry of Health as they are the custodians of the Food Safety Act; pushing for urgent and stringent actions.

Out of the 1,181 complaints registered in the last 3 months, 12% of the complaints were pertaining to food and drinks.

Equally staggering are the findings of spot checks and surveillance by the Council which revealed that an astonishing 64% of food and drink retailers surveyed were non-compliant to consumer protection laws; mainly the Food Safety Act.

Shandil says the practices discovered are not only unethical and a breach of consumer protection laws but shows malicious intent of some businesses to profiteer.

She says the high number of repeat offenders despite the Council extending an olive branch to these businesses to work together and resolve issues is a clear indicator that stringent enforcement actions need to be dished out as a deterrence against any future unethical and profiteering behaviour.

Consumers are also being urged to refrain from engaging with businesses which are clearly disregarding their rights and retailing shoddy and unmerchantable products.

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