Beware of weevils in flour, rotten onions, potatoes, fruits, expired foods …

17/10/2014 16:13

THE Consumer Council is warning consumers to look out for substandard food products that may be sold by some retailers especially as many prepare for the important religious festival of Diwali.

The Council’s market surveillance and complaints received in the past three months have found that some retailers continue to breach food safety laws by selling expired, rotten and insect-infested food items.

Weevils in wheat products like flour and sharps are an ongoing issue that the Council continues to receive complaints on. The Council is disappointed that for such a basic and essential food item, consumers continue to face the weevil problem. This is a recurring issue for the past four years and the Council is concerned that both retailers and manufacturers are not taking responsibility to alleviate the problem.

The Council is reminding retailers and manufacturers that Regulation 41(1) [19th Schedule] of the Food Safety Regulations require that that wheat flour or flour products be free from both dead and living insects. The Council is also asking that flour products nearing the expiry dates should be removed from the shelves to minimize the risk of weevil infestation. 

As a precaution consumers must avoid buying flour/sharp with Dec 2014 expiry dates to avoid frustration and running around for redress. The Council received flour from a consumer with Nov 2013 expiry date full of weevils.

The Council is urging the Ministry of Health’s Food Unit to check on both retailers and manufacturer, including the whole supply chain to ensure compliance and that consumers are getting quality flour and other wheat products in compliance with Food Safety Regulations.

The Council also wishes to express its disappointment that some unscrupulous retailers continue to fool consumers through the sale of rotten potatoes, onions, garlic and fruits. Some unscrupulous retailers also habitually breach the Food Safety Regulations by selling expired foods, or selling packaged food items with important information like expiry and use-by dates missing or not legible on the labels.

With Diwali approaching, many consumers have saved up part of their hard-earned money to purchase important food items to be used during this religious festival. And many manufacturers and retailers of food items are equally geared up with many advertisements to entice consumers to buy their brand or shop at their outlets. Consumers are urged not to be easily swayed by promises of “savings”, “giveaways”, “super specials” etc, but ensure that they check thoroughly check the food items they are buying and that they get value for money. Traders are warned not to take advantage of the festive occasion by trying to selling old or near-expiry stock. The Council urges these traders to exercise their social responsibility and understand that consumers are parting with their hard-earned savings and intend to deservedly enjoy the Diwali festivities.

Meanwhile, the Council is warning retailers that its teams in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa will be keeping a close eye on retail outlets in the lead-up to Diwali.

Consumers are also encouraged to lodge their complaints with the Council.