Maputo — The Mozambican government's National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE) has ordered a two day closure of four supermarkets belonging to the South African Shoprite group, after they were found to be selling foodstuffs past their expiry date.
Addressing a Maputo press conference on Friday, INAE General Inspector Jose Rudolfo said the Shoprite supermarkets in Maputo, the neighbouring city of Matola, the central city of Chimoio and the southern town of Boane must close on Monday and Tuesday.
On these two days inspectors will look at all the supermarkets' stock and will remove everything that is not in a fit condition to be sold.
Fines will be imposed on Shoprite, and criminal proceedings may be started, depending on the quantities of expired goods found, and on the laboratory analses (which will establish the dangers to human health).
Rudolfo said it was proven that Shoprite had been selling expired goods. It was also suspected that some expired foodstuffs had been used to make the cooked meals sold by the supermarkets. Worse still, there were signs of tampering to alter fraudulently the expiry date on the packaging.
“This is not the first time that Shoprite supermarkets have been caught selling goods unfit for human consumption”, said Rudolfo. “This time we want the punishment to go beyond fines”.
He said it was unacceptable that a business the size of Shoprite should insistently sell goods to its clients that might damage their health. All the foodstuffs in the shops would now be subjected to detailed inspection.
“We appeal to the Shoprite group, which was a pioneer in the Mozambican market, to respect the rules, and sell goods that are well stored, properly weighed, and are fit for human consumption”, urged Rudolfo.
The discovery of expired goods was thanks to denunciations by consumers and in the media, which led INAE to send brigades to look at all the Shoprite establishments in the country.
When signs of tampering with expiry dates were found, the shop managers “tried to explain, but they weren't convincing, and this leads us to believe that there really was tampering”, said Rudolfo.
Rudolfo appealed to the public to pay attention to expiry dates, so that they do not expose themselves to risk when they purchase foodstuffs.
Shoprite stores in other provinces (Gaza, Sofala and Nampula) were not caught selling expired goods, and so are not covered by the two day closure.