By Duncan Mlanjira
Competition and Fair Trading Commission has fined Shoprite Trading Limited K500,000 for supplying expired products and improperly labelled products.
A report that was issued on March 5, says the Commission conducted a surprise inspection at their shop at Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre where it discovered that Shoprite was supplying a range of processed meat products which were either expired or had their expiry date labels tampered with.
The Commission says it found the following foods as expired — 15 Citerio Paglio fresco bacon packets; 111 Kapani bacon packets with damaged expiry dates and 68 samosa produced by Angels Foods Ltd which which were expired.
“The investigation also established that the labelling on some of the products was unclear. This includes: improper and insufficient labelling of expiry dates; and expiry dates which had been bruised, hence not verifiable.
“This was a breach of Section 35 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
The decision was made during the Commission’s 54th Meeting in Blantyre on 29th January 2020 where it considered and adjudicated over competition and consumer protection cases.
Shoprite’s case was amongst several complaints that were brought before the Commission in accordance with Section 8 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
Four other food outlet companies, Best Foods Limited, Suncrest Creameries Ltd, Thirsty Juice Company and Indian Spice World were each fined K500,000 were found guilty for supplying products likely to cause injury to health or physical harm to consumers and not meeting consumer safety standards.
On Best Foods Limited, the Commission found out that it was supplying ‘Orange Juice’ which did not have sufficient product information as required under Section 43 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and Section 35 of the Consumer Protection Act.
The information deficiency included: non-declaration of the product’s ingredients; non-display of telephone and physical address of the manufacturer, and absence of MBS certification mark to show that the product had been certified or pre-certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards.
Suncrest Creameries Ltd supplied two products — Zuza Cordial, and 250ml Fresh Milk — which did not have sufficient production information such as expiry dates, certification marks from the Malawi Bureau of Standards and the manufacturer’s physical address.
“Further, the labelling on the fresh milk was not legible. This was an infringement of Section 43 of the CFTA and Section 35(3) of the CPA.
Thirsty Juice Company was supplying Hayat Bottled Water which contained misleading information on the volume.
According to the findings, a sticker on the bottle showed that the volume of the water was 20 litres while the embossed volume on the bottle was 18.9 litres.
“The investigation did not find any conclusive evidence supporting the claim that the 18.9 litres bottle had capacity to hold 20 litres of water. If the bottles contained 18.9 litres of water, the company had an obligation, under the CFTA and the CPA, to provide consumers with accurate product information.
Indian Spice World was supplying products which were either expired or had expiry dates on separate stickers or had no expiry dates.
The expired products found on the shelves were — 42 packets of Lays; 4 packets of Bhakharwadi, 2 packets Chana Nuts; Lemon biscuits, Chana Chor, Phalhari and Chiwda.
The company is also reported to have stocked 76 packets of Lays which had expiry dates tagged on removable stickers, contravening Section 43(1) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and Section 35(2) of the Consumer Protection Act.
A report that the Commission issued on March 5, says it adjudicated over 72 cases of which 24 were on alleged unfair trading practices; 19 on Restrictive Business Practices, 23 were on COMESA mergers while 6 were on local mergers.
Motor vehicle exporters, Be Forward Company (Malawi) Limited were investigated for excluding liability on defective products and unconscionable conduct but the Commission determined to close the two cases.
The decision followed the company’s undertaking to replace two defective vehicles valued at US$6,000 and US$3,133 which were supplied to consumers, Meya Chinula Muronya of Lilongwe and John Pittman of Ntcheu respectively.
“The investigation established that the delivered vehicles had had material defects that were not disclosed at the time of sale and that the consumers had since been refunded the sum of US$6,000 and US$3,133 due to the intervention of the Commission.”
The Commission comprises chairperson Nelson Nsiku, Joyce Mataya, Esmie Tembenu, Dorothy Chapeyama, Dr Patrick Kambewa, Edgar Tembo, George Naphambo, Charity Musonzo (Ex-Officio, Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism), Symon Mandala (Ex-Officio, Malawi Bureau of Standards and Roselyn Makhumula (Ex-Officio, Secretary to Treasury).