Be Vigilant, Consumers!

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Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator??Haynesley Benn addressing the??CARICOM delegates at the Seminar for Training on??CARICOM’s Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Goods. (C.Pitt/BGIS)
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Barbadian consumers are being warned to check the expiration dates and the fine prints on labels when purchasing products.

This is the word from Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, as delivered the feature address at this morning’s opening ceremony for a seminar on Delivery of Training as part of CARICOM’s Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Goods.

"We in this region need to be vigilant as we seek to safeguard consumers amidst the plethora of products offered to them…each consumer must make informed choices when purchasing products," Minister Benn stated. He continued: "I am encouraging consumers as they go into supermarkets to check the fine print; check the expiry dates."

Mr. Benn reminded consumers "that the onus is on them to notify the relevant agency in the event that they receive unsatisfactory or inferior products, or were adversely affected by their use."

The Minister said supermarkets should implement a unit to check the expiration dates of products and file any reports to the relevant agency. "Supermarkets will not benefit if they do not have a system in place at their back door when they receive [the expired product] before it goes on the shelf. And, if it does get on the shelf, the onus is on the consumer when they are purchasing the product.

"Read the print, look at the expiry date. And if it is close to the date – within three weeks to a month – the matter ought to be drawn to the attention of the supermarket owners. They, then, will take steps to have it either returned, or discuss it with the suppliers how they can reduce it and have it offered to the consumers at a good discount," Mr Benn advised.

While reassuring consumers that the Government of Barbados would continue to be vigilant of the increasingly evolving products being offered, he identified the legislative infrastructure in place to assist in this effort. The framework includes the Miscellaneous Controls Act, the Standards Act, the Metrology Act, the Consumer Protection Act and the Office of Public Counsel, responsible for the management of the Consumer Guarantees Act.

The Minister stressed that "a fully functioning CARREX [CARICOM Rapid Exchange System] is a critical step towards ensuring the protection of consumers by preventing dangerous goods from entering our markets."

The seminar, which will end tomorrow, is focusing on strengthening the market surveillance of CARICOM Member States as it relates to product safety.

alicia.griffith@barbados.gov.bb

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