Chieftainess Nyanje of the Nsenga people in Sinda says it could be possible that some illnesses among residents in the area are due to consumption of expired products.

Speaking when a team from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) paid a courtesy call on her at her palace, Wednesday, chieftainess Nyanje complained that consumption of expired products was causing her residents to fall ill.

She observed that it was vital that consumers were sensitized about the validity period on food products.

“You have done well and I…welcome you because this issue you are talking about is a problem because we just buy food anyhow without paying attention to its expiring date and that is a reason why we get sick because we eat expired products bought from shops and streets,” chieftainess Nyanje said.

She also complained that local residents were denied their right to return an item bought in some shops.
The traditional leader, therefore, urged the CCPC team to enlighten consumers on their rights.

“Now, you find you send a child to buy something and they end up buying a wrong thing or even you, as an elder, you buy something, but after identifying a defect, you decide to return it within minutes or hours, (then) you find the people you have bought it from refuse saying ‘we can’t refund once bought.’ So, we end up buying wrong products unwillingly,” said chieftainess Nyanje.

And CCPC public relations officer Namukolo Kasumpa told the traditional leader that consumers’ rights were repeatedly abused, which was why their team had endeavoured to reach out and sensitize communities.

“We are here to shed light to the people to know their rights as every customer is protected by government. We will talk to them on the importance of checking the expiry date so that the misunderstanding between a customer and a trader is avoided,” she said.

And when addressing residents, Kasumpa told them that trusting traders, together with the attractive appearance of some products, usually led to consumption of contaminated food.

“We end up eating contaminated food or buy expired products because we believe whatever we find in shops, it’s good and safe to eat when it’s not because you don’t know when the items were bought,” she said.

Kasumpa cautioned that some traders were in the habit of deceiving customers.

“Some traders are liars who tell you this product is going at such a price, but when you try to buy, they change the price. All that is not acceptable by law. Please, let’s ensure we spend our monies on rightful items, according to our desire and plan not because someone deceived us,” said Kasumpa, who also advised residents against keeping money in their homes as that increases vulnerability to theft.

One participant, Iseni Phiri, said it was difficult to know the expiry date because some products, like chemicals, were removed from their original packaging and placed in plain plastics bags, which don’t indicate expiry dates.

Another participant, Margret Banda, said people were losing their money because their ignorance was usually exploited.

The CCPC delegation was in Eastern Province to sensitize residents on their rights in relation to products they purchase, among other pertinent consumer-related issues.