A recent Diwali market surveillance conducted by the Consumer Council of Fiji has uncovered a series of alarming violations that breach consumers’ rights during this festive season.
In a statement, Council Executive Seema Shandil said that an intensive surveillance of 20 supermarkets in the Central Division has revealed that seven were retailing expired products, a clear breach of consumer rights and consumer protection laws.
She said these supermarkets sought to offload expired items during the Diwali shopping frenzy, when consumers are in a rush and stores are bustling with activity.
Shandil said it not only jeopardizes consumer health but also infringes on their right to purchase safe and properly labelled products.
“There is no acceptable excuse for having expired products on supermarket shelves, and internal procedures must be put in place by supermarkets to ensure this never eventuates.”
“However, what is even more concerning for the Council is that this is being done deliberately and the only deterrence which can now work is dishing out of the maximum fines by relevant authorities,” Shandil said.
She said during the same round of surveillance, five supermarkets were found selling products with broken, open, or distorted packaging, attempting to dispose of such products amid the Diwali shopping frenzy.
Shandil said the sale of such products must be halted immediately, and supermarkets are reminded to adhere to the best business practices and not exploit consumers during this joyous celebration.
“These findings are deeply troubling, especially during a time of celebration like Diwali. Supermarkets should not exploit the festive atmosphere to get rid of expired or damaged goods that could put consumers’ health at risk. While we will continue our surveillance efforts and push for enforcement actions, we also urge consumers to be vigilant and watch out for expired products.”
“Alarmingly, out of the 20 supermarkets surveyed, seven were found to have hygiene issues such as dirty floors, unhygienic storage facilities, and rubbish in the supermarket. This not only compromises the quality of products but also poses health risks to consumers.”
The Council is also conducting surveillance in the Western and Northern Division to unearth any unscrupulous practices.
Shandil added that as part of its commitment to ensuring consumers are protected and informed, the Council will persist in its efforts to hold those who breach consumer rights accountable. The Council urges consumers to exercise caution and check product labels while shopping.
“If expired products are encountered, consumers are encouraged to report such cases to the Council for swift action.”