Expired drinks flood market at festive periods

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The bottle of beer looked unappealingly old and dirty. The cap rusted and parts of the labels already pealing. Stopping in his tracks of uncorking the 600ml harp beer from the stables of the giant brewery, Guinness Nigeria Plc. Mr. Raphael Oluta gingerly held the bottle up, scrutinising it.

To his utter disbelief and dismay, clearly stated on the green bottle was the expiry date, ‘BB 18 17’, and the bar code number ‘5 000213011980’. The purchase was made on the 27th of December 2017, nine months since the product had expired. The retailer, popularly known as Mama Waheed, who also runs a small pub still has drinks which had expired ages ago in her pub, muted Oluta incredibly.

He had looked forward to relaxing with his favourite beer. Amid the festivities and parties, who will bother with checking manufactured and expiry dates? If not for the down and out appearance of the beer bottle, Oluta would have downed his Harp beer. How many expired and adulterated products did people unconsciously consume during the Yuletide?

Yes, Yuletide, when people are so excited that a majority are not on guard. No wonder, Mama Waheed decided to push her expired beer into the market then.

We have published many stories about expired products flooding the market, especially during festive seasons. We have warned people and cautioned them to be more at alert as most traders use the opportunity to push products they could not sell into the market.

A lot of shopping is done these periods and in some cases in a hurry and traders capitalise on that. Moreover, most of the consumers are in party mood and do not bother with the details. However, further investigations revealed that some traders end up with expired products because they engage in stock piling to avoid scarcity of the products during the festive period. They do not use proper inventory control practices to ensure consistent product turns.

Unfortunately, when they start to sell, they do not rotate the products as to bring ones nearing expiry dates in front and sell those ones first or put it in front where customers will reach them first. The result is that at the end they are left with expired products.

However, this is another remarkable event that questions some of the responsibilities of manufacturers, retailers and government to the consumer.

Reacting to the incident, Corporate Communications Manager of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Olayinka Edmond, said she does not see how the company could have prevented what happened. “What I am sure of is that we sell quality products that have not expired to retailers. The product definitely expired while in the care of the retailer and that is not our fault.”

On what the consumer should do in this situation, she said, “he should just go back to the seller and resolve the matter as there is clearly nothing we can do.”

Reacting in a telephone interview on how the company forestalls issues like this, Edmond stressed that her company does not monitor retailers to know what they are doing. “We sell to adults and we do not monitor shops or shop owners. We allow them to run their business as it suits them. One thing we do is to sell quality, premium products to them.”

Nevertheless, she demanded to know the shop owner’s address, adding that “the extent of our involvement will be to go and evacuate every of our product that has expired in her shop. Apart from that, I do not think we can do any more thing.”

Mrs. Christy Ozokwor of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, (NAFDAC), Lagos office, blamed Oluta for buying expired drink. In her words: “He is supposed to check for the expiry date before making that purchase. It is the duty of the consumer to protect himself from such purchases.”

Clearly exonerating the manufacturer from any blame, she said the job of the manufacturer is to indicate the manufactured and expiry dates in the body of the product.

NAFDAC, she noted, will confiscate the expired products from the shop and deal with the shop owner according to the magnitude of the expired products in her shop.

However, Mr. Tony Agemonmend, a veteran of 32 years in the marketing profession and currently the President of the National Institute of Marketing Nigeria[NIMN], while giving assent to the consumer checking expiry date before purchases, completely disagrees that the role of the manufacture begins and stops with making quality products and delivering them in that condition to the retailer.

According to him, “Every company has the responsibility of care to make sure its customers are protected from expired products. It is the joint responsibility of the manufacturer and the retailer to make sure expired products are not stored.”

Emphasising that he was not speaking on behalf of any company, he asked what is the job of marketers and sales representatives? “Part of their job is to ensure that those they supply to do not engage in businesses that will bring the brand to disrepute, for instance selling expired products to consumers.”

Lending credence to what Agemonmend said, a management staff of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, (SON) said that it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, government and stockier to protect the brand and in extension the consumer.

We do not really know how many people, especially during the Christmas and new year celebrations, were victims of these dubious retailers who were busy making money from expired and adulterated products. The good news here is that expired beer unlike most other products is not really harmful as pathogens do not survive in beer.

Explaining, Dr. Chuks  Ohanwusi, a microbiologist with a leading brewery, said that expired beer may taste off but it will not harm you. The flavour will change when compared to fresher beer of the same brand.

“In short, old beer is not dangerous. Some styles age well, like Belgian styles, germ wheat, unfiltered styles while others like light layers, pale ales and filtered beers do not,” explained the microbiologist.

Elucidating further, he said, “The unfiltered beer acquire richer flavour as they slowly oxidise. The wild yeasts and bacteria continue to grow though,” added the professor.  “Even those have a limit as eventually they will begin to taste very stale but it will not make you sick but it is extremely unlikely you will enjoy it.”

Nobody, however, goes out with the intention of buying expired products. All the parties involved (manufacturers, retailers, government, consumer) should please work assiduously together to forestall or curb such occurrences.

The post Expired drinks flood market at festive periods appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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