File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
TheHE current business practices of some informal and formal small businesses is of great concern.

The frequent sale of expired foodstuffs by errant traders is a big health risk. Canned food such as baked beans, potato chips, porridge, pasta and biscuits are some of the products that are sold long past their expiry date. In some instances, the item has expired two years ago already. 

While some traders unknowingly sold such products, the vast majority seem to be well aware that these products are no longer fit for human consumption. 

They know that they are paying far below cost price for these items and therefore also sell them at very low prices; while still making a decent profit.

Some are even experts at changing the original expiry date on certain items.

Selling fast foods and fresh meat products in dirty shops and stalls, using old ingredients to prepare them, or applying unhygienic practices during direct handling of these foodstuffs, also put people at risk of contracting disease.

All of these are potential sources of infection to unsuspecting consumers of these items. Increasing sales and maximising profits however seems to be the only concern of traders.

They are clearly taking advantage of customers, who rely on low prices to make their budgets stretch further.

Who will however be held liable for serious illness or loss of life, if a direct link has been found between this and the food items of a particular errant trader?

Is confiscation of expired products or a fine adequate sanction? Should their trading licences not be suspended for a few years?

How effective are environmental health authorities in protecting the public with regards to food safety?

Is the City Council or provincial government exercising sufficient oversight? Do their records reflect that all approved food outlets are inspected at least once a year, to determine the safety of foodstuffs and hygiene of the preparation environment? 

Would we even be having this problem in the first place if inspections were comprehensive and regular, and done by suitably qualified officials?

G Contaldi