29 March 2016

Liberia: Cold Store Linked to Selling Rotten Food Products

A local cold store in the commercial area of Red Light in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, has been linked to the distributions and sales of rotten food products on the Liberian market.

The cold store, which carries the name 'Fresh Frozen Food Branch-2,' is said to be in the constant habit of offering rotten frozen food products for cheap price on the Liberian market for years.

It can be recalled that the business entity was closed down for time indefinite by the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) in late 2013 for similar act.

Some marketers at the Red Light Market, especially those involved with the sales of frozen food products told the Heritage Newspaper that the alleged act by the business entity has created serious embarrassment for them, and has negatively impacted their sales.

"I think government really needs to come and do something about this because they are really embarrassing us. Because their goods are rotten, they prefer offering them for cheap, and when the customers come, they also prefer those marketers who are selling the cheap products, rather than buying from us who spend huge money to purchase our goods," said Theresa Sargent, a business woman in Red Light.

"For instance, if we are selling our chicken feet four for L$15, these people will sell theirs for six or seven for L$15, because they bought it cheap from Fresh Frozen Food Branch-2. Also, some people who believe in buying good food for their homes don't like to come around our block, because they believe everyone here is selling rotten meat products," Theresa asserted.

Besides the embarrassment being created for their business, Theresa said she fears this could also have a serious health consequence on consumers.

Several other marketers and business people have decried the 'constant habit' of Fresh Frozen Food Branch-2 of releasing these rotten food products on the Liberian market.

Like Theresa, Musu Cooper, a woman who sells dry pepper near the cold store, lamented that the 'bad business practice' by the management of Fresh Frozen Food Branch-2 could create medical chaos for Liberians, especially residents of surrounding communities of Red Light, whom she believes, are the highest consumers of these rotten food products.

"Just imagine how this place smells due to the rotten foods in there. The scent has polluted the entire place. This should tell you that these products are no longer good for human consumption. Our government needs to do something about this place or else, our people will die," Musu noted.

There are reports that staff from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry visited the place early Friday's morning, March 25, 2016, but left without taking any action against the Lebanese-run business entity.

"Maybe they will come back here, but the people from the Ministry of Commerce just left from here before you arrived. We thought they actually came to take action against these people, but they only walked into the fence and later on, we saw them coming out. We don't really know the order they left behind, but the people are still selling," Musu added. But the reports could not be independently verified by this paper.

However, when contacted, the General Manager of Fresh Frozen Food Branch-2 in person of one Hassan Sallie fell short to deny or confirm the information.

He went on to dribble journalists who had gone to him to seek clarity regarding the allegation levied against the business entity.

First, he told reporters that he was out of Red Light and would be back within one or two hours' time, and as such, any reporter wishing to talk to him should contact him at the next branch in Sayon Town on the Bushrod, outside Monrovia.

In furtherance of their ethical duty, the reporters exerted all efforts to travel from Red Light to Sayon Town, but Hassan was nowhere to be found.

He then called the reporters and apologized for the embarrassment on grounds that he (Hassan) had gone back to Red Light.

He later requested that all interviews be scheduled for the next day (Saturday, March 26, 2016).

The reporters again made another frantic effort by calling and texting Hassan on his 05555999000 number on Saturday, but he did not respond to their calls or messages.

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