Unhygienic conditions, expired goods, unmerchantable products are becoming a common sight among food and drink retailers.
This has been revealed after an analysis of consumer complaints coupled with regular surveillance and spot checks by the Consumer Council of Fiji.
Council chief executive Seema Shandil said consumers are pouring hundreds of dollars for products which should have never made it to store shelves.
She said alarmingly, out of the 1181 complaints registered in the last 3 months (November 2022 to January 2023), 12 per cent of the complaints were pertaining to food and drinks.
“Equally staggering are the findings of spot checks and surveillances by the Council which revealed that an astonishing 64 per cent of food and drink retailers surveyed were non-compliant to consumer protection laws; mainly the Food Safety Act.”
“The practices discovered are not only unethical and a breach of consumer protection laws but shows malicious intent of some businesses to profiteer.”
“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 said 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 also 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.”