The Public Relations Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) says it is completely legal for a retailer to sell to consumers products which are about to expire.
James Lartey says even if it is left with just a day for the product to expire, the retailer can still sell at a reduced price but the onus lies on the consumer to check on the expiry date before buying.
“The consumer is the strongest regulator, not the regulator,” he said on the Super Morning Show, Tuesday.
He cited an example in UK where he bought a nearly expired product at a reduced price and wondered how a developed country like that will allow such a practice to fester.
He was reminded that he, the consumer had the power to decide whether or not to purchase the product.
“The expiry date is for the consumer to check and the seller to beware,” he added.
Mr Lartey said the expiry date is so important that a consumer must not fail to check when buying.
“If the manufacturer puts an expiry date on a product, what he is saying is that, don’t hold me responsible for anything if you consume it after the expiry date” he pointed out.
While the expiry date is important, the FDA PRO insisted that consumers must also check for instructions on the product, instructions which when ignored could compromise the quality of the product bought.
“You cannot rely only on expiry date if you don’t follow instructions on the product,” he said, adding, “Things sold in traffic and in the open are not advisable to buy,” he added.
He said for some of the products, consumers are instructed to store in a cool place, or the products are to be taken three days after they are opened.
James Lartey said such products will be compromised when the retailer or final consumer does not adhere to the instructions, even if the product has not expired.
“If a product has to be kept in a cold condition, once you break the cold chain of the medicine, it is no longer efficacious,” he indicated.
The head of Food Enforcement Department at the FDA, Maria Aba Lovelace-Johnson was quick to add that even though the consumer has the power to check and regulate what they buy, it does not mean the FDA is shirking its responsibility of regulating activities of retailers and wholesalers.
She said issues about food and drugs regulation is a shared responsibility for both the consumer and the regulator.
Lovelace-Johnson said her outfit is embarking on a one day, one district sensitization campaign to educate the various District Assemblies on food and drugs safety activities.
What to look out for!
The FDA officials were vocal in providing a list of what to look out for before buying a product on the shelf.
“Every product should be labeled in English. If there is no English at all it means the regulator has not given approval. The manufacturer’s name and address must be on the product; manufacturing date and expiry date must also be on it. If the date has been altered don’t purchase it, alert the FDA,” James Lartey said.