Food that expired five years ago is being sold on “special” in Umzimvubu shops.
This discovery prompted Umzimvubu municipal bosses to issue an urgent health warning to thousands of residents in KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere) to check expiry dates on their purchases.
Municipal officials found several shops selling the hazardous goods. “Some of the dates go as far back as 2013,” said Umzimvubu local economic development manager Shirley Batyi. “We want to warn people not to rush to buy goods on special as some shop owners do that instead of discarding expired goods.”
She said people could find themselves with food poisoning and could even die.
Earlier this month, as part of a municipal consumer protection programme, police and officials from home affairs, health and traffic raided several shops. Batyi said among the expired goods were fish fingers, spices, juices, and tomato sauce. Of 11 shops visited, six had expired goods.
Batyi said the municipality had no by-laws to deal with the problem and had a duty to issue trading licences so that traders could operate freely. But the constitution states that everyone has a right to an environment that does not harm their wellbeing.
“As the municipality we have a responsibility to protect consumers from harmful environments,” she said.
The programme is to move on to rural villages around KwaBhaca as some shop owners allegedly deliberately bought expired goods and resold them in rural areas.
Batyi said verbal warnings were given to remove the expired goods from shelves, and those deemed repeat offenders, were served with compliance notices.
“We are busy finalising the issue relating to fines,” she said. —firstname.lastname@example.org