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Top retailers pasting labels with new dates & selling expired products
Tuesday, 30 September, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Abhitash Singh, Mumbai
Top retail chains in the country, some of which have pioneered many of the concepts in Indian retail, are found to be flouting labelling norms by continuing to sell processed foods and beverages way beyond their expiry by sticking new labels denoting extended use by, last consumption or expiry dates.

Though FSSAI's (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, 1.2.1 (10) clearly defines “Use by date” or “Recommended last consumption date” or “Expiry date” and adds, “After which the food probably will not have the quality and safety attributes normally expected by the consumers and the food shall not be sold,” and 2.2.1 (4) states, “Label in pre-packaged foods shall be applied in such a manner that they will not become separated from the container,” many of these top retail chains are resorting to this practice.

RTI activist
In this regard, Anupam Gupta, an activist from Masjid Bunder in Mumbai, who keeps filing RTIs (Right to Information) against big retailers and the malpractices they are resorting to, reveals, “I will not inform you about the name of the retailers who are involved in this expiry date scams.

They all are big retailers and they do it without any fear because even after so many RTIs filed, no action has been taken against those retailers by India's food regulatory body.

The changing of expiry date stickers takes place in products like juices, biscuits, wafers, and oil. Customers are not at all aware about this type of scam in big retail stores.”

That being the scenario, Mahendra Patel, a small-time Mumbai-based trader, explains the difference between what small traders and big retailers do, “The products which we get for sale from manufacturers if remain unsold and reach expiry date are taken back by the manufacturers. But big retailers are known to violate the norms pertaining to expiry dates by hiding the previous date information and sticking a new sticker on the same.”

Meanwhile, a business management graduate from Bengaluru, who worked as a trainee at a top retailer, informs, “This is a common practice at all the outlets of the company where I worked. It is known for buying processed foods and beverages from manufacturers in bulk at huge discounts and hence, it is not in a position to send them back if remain unsold. So not to lose on the profit that has been made already, expired products are sold with stickers of new dates.”

Mitesh Trivedi, a trader from Anand, Gujarat, narrates his experience, “Recently, I went to a big retailer's outlet in Anand and was looking at a popular brand of juice. When I saw a sticker stuck on the best before date, I removed it, just then a shop assistant noticed what I was doing and rushed to hush it up.”

On a concluding note, he rues, “When we import products from other countries they are stuck in ports citing product approval and labelling norms. But when big retailers are involved in such expiry date scams then no action is taken by the apex food authority. It is really a strange situation.”
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