We reported yesterday that people in Jinja have raised the red flag over claims that traders are selling to them expired products.
They have cited products such as milk, juice, biscuits, oil, ghee, and sweets as those that have expired yet they remain on the shelves and are being sold to unsuspecting consumers. We do not know what else does not meet the required standards on the market across the country and is being consumed or used by Ugandans battling the coronavirus onslaught.
Many traders, and understandably so, have not sold much since the lockdown was announced at the end of March in a bid to stem the deadly virus that has walloped hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
Yet many of them, because of the fear of making losses and depleted revenue bases, would not disclose expired products or destroy them altogether.
It is in times like these that we call upon the relevant authorities to earn their pay. The core role of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is the formulation and promotion of the use of standards; enforcing protection of public health and safety and the environment against dangerous, counterfeit, and substandard products.
Ideally, the body has a surveillance team that routinely inspects the market, supermarkets and other outlets to prevent sale of substandard and/or expired products to unsuspecting consumers.
The UNBS spokesperson, Ms Sylvia Kirabo, at the weekend, while condemning the vice, said many traders could be facing limited commodities to restock shops because production has been low during lockdown. But Ms Kirabo also said they now have limited resources to carry out operations against expired or counterfeit products during this period.
The body should appeal to the national Covid-19 taskforce and the government to come to its rescue because we could end up dealing with dire situations after the lockdown.
We understand the stress and burden traders could be going through. But in incidences where such products are found on the shelf, the said goods should be impounded and offenders punished accordingly.
Eating expired foods or foods that are past their best-by date can expose your body to harmful bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and a fever. It might even expose you to cancer.
We also call upon the public to take extra caution before paying for items at shops or supermarkets. Take an initiative to check on the expiry date and alert the shopkeepers.
It is the duty of UNBS to fight such, but work will be made much easier with the participation of members of the public.