In communities where illiteracy is high, the sale and consumption of expired commodities is a serious concern for public health authorities.
The public health office at the Soma Major Health Centre did not hesitate to issue a condemnation certificate to the GAMBEGA beverage depot in Jarra Soma after it confirmed there the expiration of eight hundred and twenty-four crates of soft drinks.
The health workers subsequently issued a destruction order for the expired drinks, which was executed on Monday 14th January 2013 in consultation with Mansakonko regional authorities including the police, National Environment Agency, and the chief of Jarra West who is the custodian of the store from which the expired goods were found.
Speaking to this paper at the disposal grounds, Ibrahim Touray, Senior Public Health Officer at the Soma Health Centre, said the destruction exercise was a step to protect the over 41,093 consumer population within three major districts of Jarra and Kiang at risk.
Expressing his concerns about possession of expired foods in the Lower River Region, he said the number of impounded GAMBEGA drinks in just the beginning of the year is more than half of the total expired food items gathered across the region during last year.
"The total amount of expired food items including flour bags and other small commodities like biscuits we confiscated from the region in last year amounted to one thousand and eighty-three," he said.
"Consumption of expired drinks can cause complications like abdominal upset, diarrhea and ulcer," he said.
With the vulnerability of the people to falling prey to complications relating to food items unfit for human consumption, Mr Touray warned that his office is prepared to enforce the public health Act to the letter in the New Year.
Ousman Conteh, Assistant Quality Assurance Manager at GAMBEGA, said the loss of an estimated 5,932 litres of drinks confined within 824 crates of beverages worth over D143, 992 by the company is in the interest of the consumer.
On why was such a huge number of expired drinks found in a single depot belonging to GAMBEGA, Mr Conteh responded that they could have reduced the price and put the product in the market when the product failed to sell, but "because we look at the interest of the consumer, we don't have to sell it."
"We believe that destroying these expired good is the best practice, because we are a responsible company. We are destroying, and we will continue to destroy if we have the need to do so," he said.