MASERU — The Maseru City Council (MCC) yesterday seized stacks of rotten and expired food parcels at Fahhida Supermarket.
Some food items had expired as back as 2009. These included a variety of cold meats, sauces, cooking oil, bread floor, milk and many others.
Fahhida Supermarket is popular with the masses for its low prices.
The MCC information officer, Lintle Moerane, told the Lesotho Times during the raid that they were tipped by a customer that the supermarket was selling expired foodstuffs.
“A concerned buyer called the office to tell us about the expired food. She had discovered that the item had exceeded the expiry date. Then she cared to check other items displayed on the shelves and found that most of them had also expired,” Moerane said.
She said they then called the Fahhida management and told them that they would be inspecting them.
“We went there in the afternoon. We found out that a whole lot of the items had passed their sell-by date. Food items on display and in storage had expired,” she added.
Yesterday the MCC cleared all shelves of expired food. Loads more were confiscated from the storeroom.
It was discovered during the operation that some food items were tampered with to remove the expiry date.
“Some items were repackaged. They removed the wrapping plastics, washed and erased the expiry dates and rewrapped them.”
All the confiscated goods were loaded onto a garbage truck to be buried at the MCC dump site in Ha-Tšosane.
Visibly angry members of the supermarket’s management blamed the MCC for seizing and destroying unexpired foodstuffs.
A woman at the shop claimed that some bags of rice that had been seized had just been bought from a wholesaler.
She also blamed the MCC officers for taking away chewing gums.
But she was embarrassed when the expiry dates on some of the items were dating back to 2011.
The supermarket management refused to comment.
Moerane said that supermarket owners will be charged with contravening the Public Health Order of 1970.
If convicted they could be sentenced to six months imprisonment or a pay a fine of M250 or both.
“Some food samples have been picked to be used as exhibits to the court,” she said.
Moerane said the MCC was concerned by business owners who sell expired foodstuffs to the public.
“It is a common and serious problem. We appeal to people to report such cases. MCC will continue with the operation in other shops selling foodstuffs.”