Are you buying expired products?

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 41            October 25, 2007

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Tampering with product labels is against the law. Store owners are reminded to NOT remove expiration dates on products.

Expiry date, best use by, sell by, and expiration dates – all of these terms carry their own definitions. However, all of them lead to the same conclusion, a set date by which a product should be kept on any store’s shelf. Once the item remains on the shelf, manufacturers negate all responsibility to the quality and freshness of the product. So, whose responsibility does it become then?

    In an interview with the Ministry of Health’s Principal Health Inspector Godswell Flores, The San Pedro Sun discovered that it is the store owner’s responsibility to make sure that the item is fresh and still good at the time of selling it. Many items may still be purchased past its date but that remains the sole responsibility of the consumer. As such, store owners need to make it clear to the customer that said item is past its date and may be sold at a discounted price.

    Once store owners chose to keep these items in stock, Health Officers countrywide can confiscate the items on the shelf and any other item found in the store room. Concerned residents brought items to our office. These items were found on the shelves of three separate grocery stores. The first one had a sell by date of July 27th, September 15th and one which had no date on it. Accusations have been made against a store that allegedly deliberately removes expiry dates from product. Claims are that the store owner’s comment when questioned about the “no date,” was that the item was distributed without that information printed on it.

    The item in question is a yogurt by the brand La Yogurt. Calls to the three city distributors in the country stated that under no circumstances do they remove the date from any product. Price Premier Products stated that expiry dates are imprinted on both the cases and cups. They sell the item by the case and not cups, never do they open a case. According to their representative it was the first time that they’ve heard of a complaint being made about a product not have a date on it.

    Removing such dates from the product requires paint thinner but simple Isopropyl rubbing alcohol can also take it off. Principal Health Inspector Godswell Flores went on to comment that if a business is found to be tampering with the labels of a product, that they may face prosecution and a fine. Should they continue with the practice, their trade license may be revoked, at the request of the Trade Licensing Committee.

    Grocery shopping requires taking a closer look at your item prior to purchasing. Make sure that you are purchasing an item at its freshest. Getting home, many realize that the item bought may have already passed its expiration date. For complaints, please call Health Inspector at (226) 2536.
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