Shop owners/ supermarkets urged to practice social responsibility

16/12/2009 15:40

The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging shop owners and the supermarkets to refrain from selling food  items affected by cyclone Mick. During the cyclone, the power failure was experienced in the whole of western and part of central division and there are areas still without any electricity. The advice comes following past experiences of post cyclone clean-up by some supermarkets where unscrupulously attempt to rid products that are salvaged from flood waters by putting them on sale to consumers.

The Council is issuing a strong advice to consumers to take heed of the warning issued by the Ministry of Health on purchasing food items, particularly frozen goods after power failure for days. To save costs, consumers can be lured by attractive low prices offered by shops and supermarkets on thawed frozen products and other flood damaged food items such as rice, floor, biscuits etc. Consumers should be aware that there is high possibility of products being contaminated with other products such as cleaning agents like Janola and soap powder. The salvaged items should not be put on sale to consumers but should be properly disposed off to prevent any harm to consumers health and safety.

Thawed meat is a huge risk to consumers because bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels and possibly cause serious illnesses if consumed. Hence, if food in a supermarket freezer is soft despite supermarket owners putting their freezer on again, consumers should refrain from purchasing them. Frozen food when thawed also losses its original shape and this can help consumers identify if they have been affected by the power outage. 

Contaminated or damaged food items should not be sold and the Consumer Council is warning shop owners against doing so.  The sale of such goods is a breach of a consumer’s right to safe food. Therefore, the Council strongly urges supermarket owners to be ethical and responsible by destroying all food items and meat that have been affected by flood waters and power cuts. The salvaged items should not be put on sale to consumers but should be properly disposed off to prevent any harm to consumer health and safety.

Meanwhile the Council commends the initiative of the Food Unit of the Ministry of Health for patrolling the areas affected. Consumers are also encouraged to report the matter to the Council or the Food Unit at the Ministry of Health should they come across shop owners/ supermarkets selling damaged goods.