Trinidad Express:– The Consumer Affairs Division (CAD) of the Ministry of Trade and Industry is urging consumers to be vigilant when shopping following recent floods.
As the Division continues to secure and safeguard consumers, staff will continue to monitor the price of food items and support consumers who are exercising their rights to access safe, merchantable items at the best prices.
The Division reminds members of the public about price gouging which occurs when a seller spikes the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.
It usually occurs in times of natural disaster or other crisis. Price gouging in post disaster markets does not only have negative effects on consumers, it may be deemed exploitative. Alternatively, price gouging can be thought of as increases in price due to temporary increases in demand rather than increases in suppliers’ costs.
Suppliers, however, should not take advantage of consumers by increasing their prices in order to make a quick profit or selling food items that have been affected by the flood waters.
In instances where there has been unscrupulous increase in the price of products consumers are reminded of their responsibility to shop around and compare prices and also their right to purchase or not purchase an item.
Consumers also need to be aware that flood water may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical waste. Food may become unsafe to eat if it comes in contact with contaminated flood water.
Even if a food package appears dry it may have been contaminated if the flood water covers or seeps into food containers. Inspect all food items thoroughly. Any items that have been in contact with contaminated flood water should be discarded. Even if the food or package appears to be dry it still may not be safe. Food that has been contaminated or spoiled may not look different. Cook your food thoroughly to ensure safety—especially if anything is touched by floodwater.
While the Division continues to monitor prices and educate citizens, members of the public are urged to exercise their power of choice and choose shopping locations wisely. Additionally consumers are reminded to examine goods before purchasing, use substitutes where possible, scan cupboards and pantries and make a list prior to visiting the supermarket and always remember to request and keep receipts in anticipation of any event where goods may have to be returned/exchanged.