OCT 16 — I have a confession.
Beyond the heavy ink, custom chopper and being an avid fan of Amercian rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, I enjoy doing groceries.
Say what you may but the act of pushing the cart while walking aisle to aisle finding the right food for my pantry is rather therapeutic.
Close friends know I am always on the lookout for the one-litre-boxed-milk of a particular brand, among others. Contrary to popular belief, I do not drink a lot of milk or have my daily dosage of Punjabi cha (tea) but it is my benchmark of identifying the prices of goods offered by a particular shop.
However, I am not a paranoid shopper who flicks through brochures identifying which food item is cheaper among the various supermarkets. I certainly do not collect coupons like those who star in TLC’s Extreme Couponing.
I do shop and I understand the anger of those who shop only to find their items stale when they return home. I feel for those who pick up a box of their favourite biscuits from the shelves only to discover it had long expired. I get frustrated when I see housewives being forced to select the ‘best-looking’ onions among the pathetic lot in a basket.
I see fish and chicken which are clearly not fresh but are priced like gold. I’d rather eat fruits and vegetables instead of paying RM32 per kg for ikan tenggiri (mackerel) or RM9.90 per kg for a chicken (minus the head and feet).
I still don’t understand how certain hypermarkets are able to proudly display expired goods — including vegetables and fruits that have turned bad — and sell them at a lower price, calling it “clearance sale”.
I have experienced seeing taufu, despite having yet to expire, with green spots on it — clearly infested with fungi. I bought a packet of pasta two weeks ago, and despite its expiry date marked 2015, it was filled with beetles.
And to my horror I picked up a can of mushrooms recently only to find out it had expired two years ago! When I pointed this out to the foreign worker who was arranging the cans, he flashed a smile and said: “Tak tahu.”
Even wet markets have been guilty of selling fake food –— with the recent dyed kampung chicken fiasco as an example.
The Malay Mail, in its front page report “Rotten food rip-off” last Friday, highlighted that consumers are being taken for a ride. Surprise inspections by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association at three hypermarkets in the Klang Valley found over 75 expired items on their shelves.
Prices and the quality of food are compromised whenever there is a major celebration. Prices of certain items were increased ahead of Hari Raya Haji.
However, the subject of concern is not just the price of food but the quality of food.
Sadly, consumerism in this country is taken very lightly.
Only a handful of us are willing to speak up against retailers who see no harm in selling substandard foodstuff.
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry can aid by conducting regular inspections and ensure retailers — from sundry shops to hypermarkets — sell quality items.
But it is us, as consumers, who have the ultimate say. We need to take charge of what we put in our stomach and in our households.
The quality of food sold should not be taken for granted.
Nevertheless, many tend to treat such matters lightly. After all, it is not as sensational as cows and condominiums or a fishy multi-million ringgit tuna project that failed.
It is the unscrupulous sellers who will have the last laugh for we are the suckers who will continue to fork out money for low quality food.
* Haresh Deol is editor (Investigations and Special Projects) at The Malay Mail. Banter with him at [email protected] or on Twitter @HareshDeol
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.