Ramadan markets inundated by expired dates
Last week, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said they disposed of three tons of expired dates that could pose a hazard to public health if eaten. Abdulbasit Al-Kumaim, general manager of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said they have doubled their efforts to check and inspect goods, particularly now as people rush to buy goods during Ramadan.
Tips to avoid expired dates
The Yemeni Authority of Brands and Standards advised date buyers to check quality and date of production; this helps them discover if the product is no longer fit for human consumption.
The authority also urged people to be sure the weight matches what has been labeled on the container. This helps safeguard against fraud. The authority advised locals not to eat dates if they have an odd smell, taste or if any insects or insect eggs are found.
The authority said not to purchase dates packed in sacks or used containers that can contain humidity or be subject to high temperatures.
Though the Yemeni Authority for Brands and Standards seriously urge people to be cautious, a large number of people remain ignorant of the matter and are unable to distinguish between expired and healthy dates.
Abdulwahab Dijna, 25, buys dates every year, but he doesn’t know if they are healthy or not, saying that he simply focuses on the taste and the look of the dates. He pays no attention to the expiration date.
The Yemeni Authority for Brands and Standards said there are some signs that can help distinguish inedible dates; such as finding insects in the container, discoloration and sour taste. When they turn black it’s an indication of expiration.
The authority said that it tries its best to control the spread of unhealthy merchandise in Yemeni markets.
A new phenomenon
Abdurahman Othman, the authority’s general manager, said in a statement last week that 800 tons of unfit dates were rejected by Yemeni customs at different border crossings.
He also said the authority refused to allow 1200 cartoons of imported dates through Al-Wadeea’a cross in Hadramout governorate because they did not meet quality standards.
“It is worrying that some merchants try to sell expired dates. Some mix old dates with new ones so they are not detected,” he said, calling for the government, the private sector and civil society organizations to cooperate with the authority and tell them of anyone caught selling them.
Currently, stores are full of dates. Mohammed Al-Makhrafi, a date store owner in the Shumaila district of Sana’a, said he always sells edible dates.
“We import dates from Saudi Arabia. We have a well-known brand in the market. A lot of people buy dates from our shops and no one has complained about the quality.”
He added that his stores are open for all to inspect; they don’t fear any government checks on their goods.