Negligence in supermarkets threatens health standards

July 9, 2024 6:57 am

Concerns have been raised about the alarming food safety issues plaguing supermarkets in the Suva-Nausori corridor.

Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Chief Executive Joel Abraham has expressed concern over the observed conditions during inspections, pointing to a troubling disregard for hygiene standards.

Abraham emphasized the critical nature of the issue, noting instances where imported chicken pieces were left exposed, handled by multiple shoppers without adequate hygiene measures.

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This negligence, he warns, directly impacts public health, suggesting that better food safety practices could reduce healthcare costs associated with illnesses caused by substandard products.

FCCC Chief Executive Joel Abraham

He states that economic pressures have exacerbated the situation, compromising food quality as consumers increasingly prioritize price over quality.

“I have personally in my 13 years at FCCC seen businesses using turpentine to rub off expiry dates and put new ones. I’ve seen new stickers being put on the labels, I’ve seen foreign labels come in and new labels being put around it, not with the same nutritional information but that is the plight.”

Abraham urged heightened consumer vigilance, emphasizing the importance of reporting irregularities to regulatory authorities.

Joint inspections by FCCC and municipal councils have uncovered disturbing findings, such as weevil and small cockroach infestations.

These revelations aim to restore accountability and transparency within the food retail sector.

Abraham has called for collective efforts to rebuild trust between consumers and the private sector, stressing that consumers should no longer assume purchased items are fit for consumption without assurance.

He is urging stakeholders to prioritize stringent food handling standards to safeguard public health and restore consumer confidence.

The CEO had highlighted these issues during a meeting of the National Taskforce on food safety with the private sector.