Millions worth of expired goods that were still being sold in market destroyedMarket flooded with expired products, says Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection. Consumers urged to exercise caution.
The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection have destroyed expired consumable and non-consumable goods worth Rs30.66 million by inspecting 1,787 firms in nearly six months (mid-July to January 7) of the current fiscal year.
According to the department, customers were being sold expired Nepali beer (particularly ones in cans) from brands like Tuborg, Arna, Nepal Ice, Gorkha in the market. Similarly, Asian, Berger and Pashupati Paints were also found selling expired goods in the market.
“The department has ordered the firms selling expired products to retract the goods from the market immediately,” said an official from the department. The department destroyed expired beer of around Rs500,000 and paint of Rs800,000.
In recent times, the market is seeing a lot of expired products being sold, said an official in the department. Consumers need to be aware while buying goods and check the date properly, the official added.
“The negligence among distributors and buyers has increased in the market,” said an official.
Of the total market inspection in the given time period, the department fined Rs14 million from 512 firms and has filed cases on three firms.
The department has also stopped the operation or sealed 29 firms during the time period and has taken control of 19 people and vehicles involved in unscrupulous market activities. Various warehouses of drinking water suppliers, packaged food items and gas sellers were also sealed for not meeting standards, said Sagar Mishra, director at the department. Once the investigation is complete and firms complete the action procedure as per the department order, the sealed firms will be allowed to operate.
The egg and feed industry, suppliers of electronics, garment shops, grocery stores, food items, construction materials, furniture and furnishing and cold stores were among those fined.
Of the total inspected firms, only 64 firms were found operating following the rulebook. Many were found with issues like not issuing invoice bills, not keeping price lists, not meeting the product standard, not renewing the operation certificate and operating without registering.
Only recently, the police and the department raided warehouses of two companies suspected of relabelling expired branded foods and other items and selling them to customers.
Cases were filed against the companies—Bishnu Laxmi Enterprise and Zodiac Marketing—for relabelling expired products, where Bishnu Laxmi was sentenced a jail term and Zodiac Marketing was fined.
During the investigation, the people involved in the relabelling confessed that they were relabeling products that had expired two years ago.
According to the director at the department, Rs20 million expired food items were destroyed of Ayan Distributor and Bishnu Laxmi Enterprise that were found relabelling imported packaged food items like Snickers, Cadbury, Pringles, Tang, Oreo, BournVita and different products from Unilever like Horlicks, Dove shampoo and toilet soaps.
Eating expired foods or foods that are past their best-by date can expose the human body to harmful bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever leading to serious health issues.
Consumer right activists have been saying that such type of unscrupulous market activities hardly comes to light, as the companies are mostly protected by the government itself. The government gets active in inspecting such cases only when festivals approach but people are consuming such goods from the past many years, said the activists.
Meanwhile, Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, raised the concern that as the country’s political scenario is so uncertain, market anomalies have become more active inviting unscrupulous market activities. “The direct impact of the House dissolution and announcement for election is already being seen in the market,” he told the Post. With political parties seeking financial aid from traders, trends such as price hike in daily consumable goods, compromise in quality and quantity, and import of low standard products going against the Consumer Protection Act are already being seen in the market, he added.
Prem Lal Maharjan, president of National Consumer Forum, too said that the chances of black marketing and artificial price is high as a result of political uncertainty. The government that already failed to keep up with a healthy market will worsen with the rise in opportunist traders, he said.
Mishra said that market supervision has been increased taking the political situation into consideration. The department has deployed four teams for market inspection daily but lacks dedicated manpower, he said.