Buy 1, get 1 free, but beware

Selling products beyond their expiry dates is illegal and punishable by law. File Photo  

Every time you go grocery shopping, chances are you end up buying more than you need.

What else are you to do when ‘buy one, get one free’ offers and big discounts beckon to you from the shelves at your local grocer’s or supermarket?

However, be alert when you buy food products sold under such offers — they may be nearing their expiry date or not be fit for consumption altogether.

Last year, the State food safety department seized and destroyed two tonnes of expired food products from various stores in the city.

“Even big supermarkets sell expired products. Such food items are mostly found in north Chennai,” said an official.

While some shop owners claim it is not illegal to sell products that will expire in a fortnight, consumer associations said such problems will end if the consumer gains an understanding of food safety.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the seller shall be held responsible if any food article is sold after expiry date or even handled or kept in unhygienic conditions.

“Food products should carry the manufacturing date and ‘best before’ date on the cover. Perishable items such as bread and milk should mention the use-by date. Expiry date is, however, mentioned only on infant food products,” said G. Santhanarajan, director, Consumer Association of India.

Selling products beyond their expiry dates is illegal and punishable by law, and consumers can alert the food safety officer in the respective zones.

“If a consumer is harmed by the use of expired products, it becomes a criminal offence. Otherwise, the shopkeeper or dealer is fined up to Rs. 5 lakh under the Food Safety Act,” said an official.

But shopkeepers alone cannot be blamed. “Consumers should stop buying such products. Only a few consumers are aware of their rights,” said Mr. Santhanarajan.

The owner of a supermarket said it is alright to stock food products until they have not crossed the expiry date.

“Besides, shop staff should be trained to take products that have crossed their expiry date off the shelves,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 8:42:44 PM |

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