Yemeni Markets…  Expired Products and Absence of Control [Archives:2000/07/Culture]

February 14 2000

Yasser M. Ahmed,
Yemen Times
Yemeni markets are flooded with imported food stuffs, while local processing plants produce large quantities of the similar merchandise, but because of the absence of specifications and standards, these products get changed into wastes worsening the situation.
Nowadays, it has become easy matter for any person who owns money to market his goods and build factories to manufacture any kind of products often jeopardizing the health of consumers.
In Ramadhan, for instance, one easily could see some people selling whatever they like on the streets and openly displayed exposing them to dust and all kinds of pollutants. Moreover, people selling prepared foods used cooking material and oils no longer that are not fit for human consumption. The responsible authorities should have made the public aware and applied punishments against those who endanger peoples’ lives, at least to show respect for the Holy Month of Ramadhan. These authorities do not carry out their responsibility of protecting the citizen’s health, leaving him under the mercy of skyrocketing prices and hazardous foods. Traders and dealers are left with a free hand, selling whatever they want without being accountable to the competent authorities.
The Environment Health Authority, whose duty is to monitor what is going on in the markets, has neglected its duty, especially in the distant governorates from the capital, to an extent that it is endangering the people’s health. With the absence of a price control regime at the Ministry of Supply and Trade and the negligence of the Environment Health Authorities the result has been chaos in prices and the spread of outdated foods. Ramadhan is apparently different for the Yemenis than it is for the other Moslems of the world. We had come under exorbitant prices and humiliation, with the release of more than 120 different kinds of goods that are unfit for human consumption. Laboratory tests proved that these were expired goods but still they were being sold in the markets.
Is it logical that the municipality chases peddlers everywhere yet it makes not efforts to solve the peddlers’ problems, and keep the markets full of outdated products? The problem is exacerbated by the truth that all this is hidden behind official complicity in the consumer nightmare by merely not doing anything about it at all. To solve this problem is not difficult if there is a real intention to do so by the concerned entities.
People will have to say their opinion in this respect. We have talkeeed to some people and here iis what they have said.
Mr. Mohammed Hassan Sa’ad “Frankly, I buy any food substances that are available and I do not know their benefits or harms especially the canned products. We often buy canned goods because they are easy to eat and do not cost much. We hear about spoiled canned foods but when we see them on sale it come to our mind that they are licensed especially that they are sold on the sidewalks of the capital and other important cities. I can distinguish good products from bad ones and I do not watch enough programs on TV to educate me.”
Mr. Faisal Abd Kasim “I really know and hear about the bad effects of spoiled goods but my knowledge is still limited because information media do not take enough care of this topic. Commercial advertisements on TV and in newspapers overweigh the education of citizens of any harmful substance. As for educating family members of the harms of these products, it is difficult because of the lack awareness of the seriousness of this problem. The spread of these products in markets justifies their use in the ordinary citizen point of view. I believe that the solution to this problem is stop promoting for these products and therefore they would not spread or even ban them completely.”
Mr. Abdullah Ali Ahmed “The products which I buy form markets are not really expired because I always read their expiration date and I find that are still usable for 1 or 2 months. I personally do not know whether these dates are forged or not but what is important is that the presence of these products in the market without a control indicates that authorities in charge have allowed this to happen. Many citizens do not know expired products from non-expired ones and here comes the importance of government control for these products.”
Mr. Marwan Ismail Ali “I frankly say that there is not any sort of control on such products. Official authorities perform a futile role represented by periodic visits to markets. Even in this periodic inspection campaign they do not perform their role right for some would accept money in return for letting traders sell their products. As for the role of non-official organizations, it almost does not exist. There is only one society and it is still not completely established. This society cannot perform its task well because of its lack of resources. In my opinion control is really important along with awareness.”
To be continued next week