Over 57 tons of expired, counterfeit goods destroyed
The campaign started in June and will continue throughout Ramadan, said Khalid Al-Khwlani, the director of the Industry and Trade office in Sana’a. The office has also met with major importers of food commodities to ensure that there is no mark-up for the Ramadan season.
More than 57 tons of expired and counterfeit food products, cosmetics and medicines have been destroyed since the beginning of the year, Al-Khwlani told Yemen Times. There have been 581 documented violations; 522 have been referred for prosecution, he said.
Eight ice-cream factors in the Dar Salm area have been closed for not meeting safety standards. Al-Khwlani urged residents to call the Trade and Industry Ministry’s toll-free number, 174, to report violations and urged residents to avoid purchasing inexpensive products sold by street vendors.
“We have established sub-committees in each district to periodically inspect shops and markets until the end of Ramadan,” said Al-Khwlani.
With a weak economy, people are increasingly turning to street vendors and markets for cheaper goods. The influx of people is resulting in more demand for goods, leading to more expired and counterfeit products, said the director of the Consumer Protection Authority, Ali Abdulaziz Al-Haj.
The Capital Secretariat confiscated nearly 50,000 packs of counterfeit chewing gum in Al-Sonaina shopping center in Sana’a. The owner of the shopping center was fined YR 400,000, about $1900.
Trader Mohammed Al-Jalham said he was deceived into buying a large amount of expired juice. One customer returned with a juice box containing nails.
Six hundred cartoons of counterfeit ice-cream were also recovered. The ice-cream was unsafe for consumption, Al-Haj stated.
Representatives of the original brand complained about the impersonating brand, leading to prosecution.
Counterfeit goods aren’t limited to developing nations such as Yemen. The New York Times recently published an article about the phenomenon: Counterfeit Food More Widespread Than Suspected.
“Around the world, food fraud is an epidemic — in every single country where food is produced or grown, food fraud is occurring,” said Mitchell Weinberg to The New York Times. “Just about every single ingredient that has even a moderate economic value is potentially vulnerable to fraud.”
Complaints from the Consumer Protection Authority by residents are rare, said Al-Haj. The majority of fraudulent goods consist of beans, milk, juices, sauces, cosmetic items and children’s toys, he said.
Fines and prosecution are determined by the prosecutor’s office.
Last year, the Industry and Trade office destroyed over 80 tons of expired and counterfeit goods. Over 1200 violations were reported; 732 were referred for prosecution. Penalties varied from prison-sentences to the closing of shops.