As the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division gears up to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day later this month, residents are being advised to take product recalls seriously due to the health risks often associated with them.
Early this month, Colgate-Palmolive issued a recall for certain Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaners due to contamination, prompting the division to launch an investigation into the potential local impact – though word from the division up to recently was that, fortunately, none of those recalled products were found in Antigua.
And following that recall, Reckitt – another major manufacturer – issued one for its ‘Enfamil Prosobee Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula’, a product consumed by babies and toddlers, due to possible cross contamination.
With Antigua and Barbuda importing the majority of its consumer products, the country is at increased risk for these contaminated items, compared to countries that manufacture their own, often on smaller scales.
For this reason, the Director at the division, Orin Steele, encouraged consumers to be vigilant and take the recalls seriously, for the sake of their health.
“It’s very important for consumers to know that when a recall is issued, do not take it lightly … when recalls are issued, they’re issued to protect us, [but] some persons just think that ‘I will just keep using something’ or not want to change their behaviour; however, a recall is for all of us.
“It’s a good thing that we have not seen the extreme effects [of contaminated products], and we don’t have to wait until it gets there for us to be vigilant,” Steele said.
When product recalls are issued by these major international manufacturers, the division is usually on the ball, notifying the public of the situation and advising them of the steps to take to protect themselves.
“We at the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division try to get [word of the recalls] out via all mediums, [whether] WhatsApp, Facebook or the [traditional] media outlets, to ensure that everyone knows about it.
“If there’s another medium that persons think we can use, we welcome that as well to get the information out, because we want to ensure that consumers are protected.
“Without the information, consumers cannot make wise decisions to protect themselves against these dangerous products,” he noted.
And the warning from Steele was not directed solely at consumers, but also wholesalers and retailers who are responsible for selling the products.
There have been reports out of neighbouring countries where retailers ignore product recalls in the name of generating revenue, and threaten the health of the persons who inadvertently purchase the recalled products.
According to the director, that practice should not replicated in Antigua and Barbuda.
“For the retailers, we encourage them [not to] get worried about discarding or having to return an item because during recalls as you would have seen, you will be reimbursed, whether it be [through] other products, a credit or even your money back.
“So, don’t keep [the recalled products] and try to erase a date off of [them] to sell to the consumers in Antigua and Barbuda, because that is not the best thing – if somebody gets extremely sick, sad to say even dead, you’re going to be liable for that.
“I appreciate the persons who would have been compliant, worked along with us and had any products that they would have taken action to discontinue using – as well as for wholesalers, discarding or returning the products if needs be to the place of origin.”
World Consumer Rights Day is commemorated annually on March 15, and to mark this year’s event, the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division will be hosting a panel discussion on March 14 at the Villa Polyclinic.
The discussion will highlight energy efficiency and conservation, and “present a window of opportunity for us to hear from the experts and ensure the consumer’s voice does not get lost in them,” according to the division.
The general public is invited to attend the discussion, which is scheduled to run from 9.30am to 12pm. (Newsco)