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Counterfeit & expired goods flood Bulawayo streets

by Staff reporter
12 Jun 2024 at 01:32hrs | Views
In Bulawayo's Central Business District (CBD), an informal sector thrives under the cover of darkness, selling cheap foodstuffs and other products that are often expired or counterfeit. Operating between 5pm and 10pm, this "US$1 industry" targets budget-conscious shoppers with items such as bread, polony, baked beans, chicken pieces, and one-litre juices, all priced at one dollar.

Consumers have raised concerns about the quality and safety of these products. For instance, Mr. Mlungisi Sibanda purchased what was supposed to be 100% orange juice for US$1, only to find it had a peculiar taste and had expired over two months earlier. His experience, shared in a local WhatsApp group, revealed that many others had similar issues.

Parents are particularly worried as they often buy these cheap products for their children's school lunches, unknowingly putting their health at risk. A survey by Chronicle highlighted that the pavement-sold goods are significantly cheaper than those in supermarkets, drawing many buyers despite the risks. For example, a one-litre juice that costs US$1.25 in a supermarket sells for US$1 on the streets.

Vendors use various tactics to hide the fact that products are expired or counterfeit, such as tearing off sections of brand names or expiry dates. Common indicators of counterfeit goods include blurry labels, misspelled brand names, and flimsy packaging. One consumer recounted buying watery counterfeit toothpaste, and another found a roll-on container filled with water.

The source of these counterfeits remains largely unknown. One vendor mentioned obtaining baked beans and other products from South Africa through a cross-border transporter. The Consumer Protection Commission urges consumers to buy from reputable sources, check expiry dates, and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Medical professionals warn that counterfeit products may contain harmful impurities and pose serious health risks.

Dr. Mthokozisi Nkosi, chairperson of the Consumer Protection Commission, called for vigilance and a crackdown on counterfeit goods, while Dr. Chris Munodei highlighted the dangers posed by such products due to lack of regulatory compliance.

Source - The Chroncile