Consumer Conserns

Last Sunday this column carried a portion of the text of Mr Cassian Mittleholzer’s broadcast in November 1971 which spoke of Aflatoxin and its dangers. It is continued:

“Another point to bear in mind is that a consumer cannot tell whether a jar of peanut butter contains Aflatoxin. There’s also no way a consumer can treat peanut butter to remove Aflatoxin. In short, consumers are totally dependent on the peanut farmers, the sellers and the processors. The big question therefore is: Should you avoid peanut butter.”

In the United States, officials of the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drugs Division seem to incline to the belief that Aflatoxin is an unavoidable contaminant. Consumers Union (the consumers organization of the USA), however, believes that Aflatoxin contamination is preventable. The Guyana Consumers Association stands by this opinion but we are deeply conscious of the fact that achievement of this end will call for intensified effort and dedication by:

(i) extension field officers of the Ministry of Agriculture by educating and advising peanut farmers on the harvesting, cleaning, drying and suitable storage of their nuts to prevent mould contamination; and by close monitoring for effective response;

(ii) the Ministry of Health through the Food and Drugs Division and Analyst, whose inspections and tests should be regular and on-going at all known storehouses, shipping bonds, sales outlets, manufacturers’ or processors’ premises;

(iii) closer inspection and selectivity by the Guyana Marketing Corporation’s purchasing agents as well as private middle-men buyers at farm level.

Finally, but extremely important, consumers must make it a practice to examine their purchases of peanuts for mould or disease and to report promptly to the Government Analyst Department any instance of diseased peanuts being offered for sale. Remember, Aflatoxin is a potential carcinogen – a cancer hazard we dare not ignore. Preventive measures are the only safe answer.

There is urgent need for the protection of consumers who require reconditioned vehicles for their work. The purchasers receive no warranty. They are not allowed to test drive the vehicles. They have to sign a blank piece of paper on which the Agreement of Sale is later typed. When faults develop from the first day, they are required to pay for repairs even when the repairs are not successful. Without a Consumer Protection Act they are in the hands of sharks.

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