CASTRIES, St. Lucia, August 14, 2019 (CMC) – A leading regional supermarket chain has withdrawn People’s Choice flour from its shelves, here, after a video, posted on social media, claimed that the product had expired, but was still being offered for sale.
“Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd. wishes to apologize to customers for an issue, regarding the packaging of its People’s Choice Flour, which, today, resulted in a high level of customer dissatisfaction and media speculation about the quality of the product,” the company said, in a statement, explaining that it had received a shipment of product from its supplier, Barbados Mills, in mid-July.
“Following inspection, it was noted that some bales of the product carried a January 2019, best before date. Upon contacting the supplier to inform of this development, Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd. was informed that some of the bales within the shipment had been erroneously stamped with the incorrect best before dates,” the statement noted.
It said that following documentation from the manufacturing plant to substantiate this information, the supplier requested that the error be corrected, locally, by affixing the new best before label (January 2020) to the product.
The company, which is part of the Trinidad and Tobago-based conglomerate operating in the majority of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, said this was done and communicated to the Ministry of Commerce, which issues licenses to retailers for the importation of flour into the country.
“We apologize to our valued customers and the general public and sincerely apologize for this situation. The action taken was purely to correct the error. In discussion with our supplier, Barbados Mills, earlier today, we agreed and accepted that there may have been other corrective actions, which should have been explored in this situation,” said Massy Stores Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Sariah Best-Joseph.
The Department of Consumer Affairs said it had been made aware that the video had caused some anxiety, but noted that Massy had taken a decision to withdraw the product from the market and quarantine it.
“I would urge any consumer, who has issues as it relates to the use of the flour and who have purchased that flour, can actually return the flour to Massy for a refund,” said the Director of Consumer Affairs, Guillaume Simon.
“We have been in dialogue with Massy, and Massy did, in fact, submit to us a letter of certification from the supplier, indicating that it was just an error on the part of the printing, and that there was nothing unwholesome about the flour,” Simon stated.
In the video that lasted just about two minutes, a package of the commodity, listing a ‘Best By’ date of January 5, 2020 is shown, but when the paper bearing that date is peeled away, a January 2019 date is revealed beneath it.
“Watch what you all eating! Watch what you all eating!” A male voice is heard to exclaim on the video recording as the January 5, 2019 date is shown.
In its statement, Massy said it “wishes to reassure customers that the company values the integrity of the products offered to our customers”.
“We honour the best before and expiry dates on products and voluntarily remove products, which do not meet standards of health, safety and quality. We work very closely with the regulatory agencies, including the Department of Consumer Affairs, the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards and the Ministry of Health on food quality and safety matters, as well as product recalls,” the company said, adding it is “also working, assiduously, to ensure that another batch of inventory is available for customers, in the soonest possible time”.