If you are in Maun, have a sweet tooth and are thinking about buying a box of Choc Astros, you definitely have to check the expiry date on the box to ensure that you don’t suffer what Thato Englishman did more than a week ago.
On March 24, Englishman bought a box of Choc Astros at a Shop Rite store in the village and it never occurred to him to check the product dating information until he had consumed more than half the box. Such thought only occurred to him when he noticed cracks on the shell of the few remaining sweets. On close inspection of the expiry date on the box, he discovered that the sweets had expired on January 30, 2018. He took the sweets back to the shop and took the matter up with Lucia Benjamin who presented herself as the store manager.
In order to build a watertight case, Englishman recorded their conversation. In the audio clip that he has provided to Sunday Standard, Englishman can be heard telling Benjamin that he could well die from eating expired sweets. In response, Benjamin says “You won’t die” which statement Englishman interprets to mean that the store is selling expired goods deliberately because it believes that customers who consume them won’t die. When Englishman tells her that his health has been compromised, she responds by saying that, in line with company policy, he should see a doctor and that the store will reimburse all his expenses thereafter. To her credit, the manager apologised profusely and indicated that a lapse in the store’s food safety protocols resulted in the expired sweets being displayed on shelves for sale.
However, what was initially described as an honest mistake has turned out to be something else. Three days later, the expired sweets were still on the shelves and Englishman once more bought a box ÔÇô not for consumption but as an act of consumerist vigilantism to prove the recklessness of the store with public health.
“If they knew that expired goods pose a health risk to consumers, they would have removed the sweets from their shelves so that other people may not be exposed to such dangerous goods. Of course to them it is okay to sell the goods because they cannot cause death when consumed,” Englishman says.
As regards corrective action taken to right its wrongs, Englishman notes that rather ask him to see a doctor at his own expense and be reimbursed afterwards, the store should have taken the initiative of having him so examined.
“But they didn’t because they don’t think it is important to sell us good quality goods,” he says.
He has an even stronger message for the store. He doesn’t want to be used as “a lab rat” to confirm if consuming expired goods will not kill consumers.
“I don’t think it is fair for Shoprite to keep selling these goods just because they are sure they won’t kill us as consumers. Ba dira ka bomo hela ka gore gare ka ke ra swa,” says a greatly displeased Englishman.
The issue takes an even darker tone when one considers what harm could be suffered by a consumer group which, on account of age, lacks the level of consumer savviness that Englishman has displayed ÔÇô children. It is highly likely that they may have bought and are possibly still buying the expired sweets. Englishman has compiled a treasure trove of documentary and audio evidence. In both cases, he kept receipts and had Benjamin sign the first one. The photocopy of both boxes shows the product dating information and the store-entered barcode for the Choc Astros.
The landline number we have for the store wouldn’t go through while Benjamin’s cellphone rang unanswered.