Study reveals widespread sales of inferior productsAround half of the packaged food items being sold in Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts are of poor quality and pose a threat to public health, a recent market inspection carried out by the Ministry of Supplies has revealed.
Around half of the packaged food items being sold in Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts are of poor quality and pose a threat to public health, a recent market inspection carried out by the Ministry of Supplies has revealed.
The study has blamed poor monitoring and lack of awareness among consumers for unscrupulous practices in the market.
“Around 50 percent of the packaged food products being sold in these districts, including urban areas, do not meet the standards set by law,” said Surya Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the ministry who led the monitoring team.
The Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) carries out market monitoring in the Kathmandu Valley. Representatives of the Cottage and Small Industries Development Board and the Department of Commerce carry out monitoring in another 19 districts.
Likewise, district monitoring committees headed by the respective chief district officer have been assigned to conduct market inspection in the other districts.
“Apart from lack of awareness among consumers, infrequent market monitoring and apathy of the district-based monitoring authorities have encouraged stores to stock products past the expiration date,” Shrestha said.
Meanwhile, a separate inspection carried out recently by the DoSM in Parbat, Myagdi and Baglung showed that the illegal practice of selling products past their expiration date was widespread in these districts.
The report submitted by the monitoring team led by DoSM Director Niraj Poudel showed that expired beverage products and medicines, in particular, were being sold widely in these districts.
DoSM Director Deepak Pokharel said that complaints about expired products arrive at the department almost every day. “Besides food items, the problem is widely seen in medicinal products, paints and cosmetic items,” said Pokharel.
The department inspects seven to 10 outlets daily, and more than 50 percent of them are found to be selling expired goods, he added.
The Consumer Protection Act 1998, Food Act 1967 and Black-Marketing and Some other Social Offences and Punishment Act 1975 forbid the sale of expired products.
Sellers can be fined up to Rs50,000 and jailed for up to two years if a customer suffers serious health problems after consuming expired products.
Pokharel said the usual practice was for the department to destroy substandard products on the spot. “The department may also seal the outlet in case of misconduct,” he said.
Consumer rights activists have blamed weak monitoring by the government for the rising cases of sales of products past their expiration date.