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Food Forensics
 
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Access to information denied

09 November 2011, 07:11

Why is access to Information pertaining to food safety and quality assurance, denied citizens?

A critical issue confronting all unsuspecting customers and or consumers is the immediate access to information. Which is accurate, truthful and honest when querying the food safety, quality and regulatory compliancy of the food and beverage products. They have consumed or intend to consume from no matter whom was and or is involved in supply chain of the food or beverage product.

This is a right seemingly enshrined in the constitution of South Africa, although not limited to this legislation and or other legal right they have.

However it is common knowledge that when a product is queried or complained about at the point of sale. IE: The final supplier, whom supplies/sells the product/s to the customer/consumer. This supplier invariably states they do not have the information available and directs the customer to a customer care line within the organisation/company. Or informs the customer they well contact the entity that supplied them for answers and will get back to the person making the query. The customer is then expected to wait days if not weeks for a discretionary response. A response that may/ could have a distinct bearing on a customer/consumer’s health, but not limited to this reason.

My most serious concerns I have placed with the Government in this regard for an extended period of time, without response. Which I encourage readers hereof, to afford further comment to. Are as follows:

1.) Is this an acceptable business mannerism by the end supplier? Do not lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with entities that profess to be experts, in their various fields of expertise.

Is it a simple fact that the end supplier does not know what they are selling. Do they not know the various regulatory compliances that the product/s are required by law, to adhere to?

Is it fair for customers and or consumers to be confronted / subjected to this situation unabated?

2.) When a suspect and or non compliant product is submitted to the Department of Health (DOH) or the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) or other Governmental regulatory authority, for comprehensive analysis and testing. Which is a customer /consumer legal right to request be done expediently. For reasons known to the customer and consumer and in most instances portrayed to regulatory authority concerned.

As much as the regulatory authority having been made aware of the concerns. The Laboratory result/s  is/are refused the customer/consumer/complainant.

Again, why are customers and consumers confronted with this situation, which could or may be health and or life threatening?  Is it the legal and or sole prerogative of the Regulating Authorities to deny this information?

Or has/is the secrecy act actually already been imposed on citizens regarding food and beverage products?? Is it legal??  

Another most perturbing fact is, should a regulating authority be requested to attend a complaint at outlet where the complaint or query arose. They will make extraordinary excuses not to attend. They will however state they will visit the original manufacturer/supplier at their discretion. Their reasoning given for this is also extraordinary to say the least. Irrespective of their reasons. It does not take a person to be a "rocket scientist" to know why they do this, to say the least.

The CRUX of the matter is again evident. What is/are the Food and Beverage Industry and the various Regulating Authorities in South Africa hiding from unsuspecting customers and consumers?? and WHY?? Do WE not have a right to make our own educated and informed decisions as to what we will and will not consume?

Is it morally, ethically and legally correct for citizens in a purported democratic and constitutionally empowered country to be treated this way?  

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