Food safety is a topic that we all think about from time to time. Whether it’s while we are doing our grocery shopping, picking out the best fruit and vegetables we can find, or whether it’s after an unpleasant experience while recovering from food poisoning.
However, thinking about food safety from the perspective of consumer protection is possibly a topic that is not often pondered. For instance, as society progresses to one that encourages healthier foods and diets, we are showered with information on the health benefits of certain foods. So our relationship with food becomes consumed with how the benefit our lifestyle.
Yet, another important factor to consider is if we are legally protected from the food that we consume. As the safety of our food not only contributes to our balanced diets and daily intake requirements, it is important to understand the relevance of the Consumer Protection Act in this industry.
Consider a situation where you order lunch from your office canteen. You are required to avoid tree nuts as you have a severe allergy that can put your life at risk if consumed. So, you order a pre-prepared lunch that includes peanuts, however, there is no label on your food packaging stating this. The consequences of this are life-threatening both to your health and the health of another individual that may end up in the same situation. Enter, The Consumer Protection Act!
The role of The Consumer Protection Act
The main purpose of the Consumer Protection Act is to ensure that consumers are given equal and fair rights within any consumer industry. The protections under this act are widespread and are included in all trades. Moreover, consumers are given the right to lodge complaints against companies. These rights include being provided with accurate product marketing, quality products, and services.
Consumers further hold the right to lodge complaints against industries ranging from skincare, electronics, and importantly, food. The relevance of The Consumer Protection Act in the food industry is particularly significant as it determines the quality of food that you receive, the safety of these foods, and the overall well-being for you and your family.
What are your rights as a consumer?
Lets first look at your right to quality products in the food industry. The relevance of consumer protection ensures that the food that you are provided with is fresh and properly labelled. This is of utmost importance as it determines whether the food that you eat is safe for consumption, whether based on specific food allergies or freshness to avoid food poisoning.
Secondly, the relevance of The Consumer Protection Act plays a strong role in the safety of these foods. For instance, it is your right to be provided with consumables that are non-toxic. Foods that are not of organic origin or contain chemicals (particularly meats) are required to be properly labelled so that you, the consumer, are aware of your purchase.
Lastly, the overall well-being of you and your family largely comprises of the food that you consume. Non-fresh, poorly labelled products could produce detrimental effects on your health that can negatively impact your well-being.
What does the Act say about consumer complaints?
This brings upon another relevant function of The Consumer Protection Act: complaints. As a consumer, you have the right to lodge complaints with the Act based on your experience with a product.
It is also within your right to complain about any unfavourable experiences with a product. This can include complaints about the quality of food received based on poor labelling of expiration dates to falling ill due to consuming non-fresh foods.
Foods containing a high level of nutritional value are another aspect pertaining to the relevance of The Consumer Protection Act in the food industry, ensuring that you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Communications between trades and consumers additionally signify the relevance of the Act. An example of this communication includes a case of a listeriosis outbreak in South Africa in June 2018. The listeriosis outbreak resulted from food-borne bacteria found in animal products. The effects of the disease included vomiting, dehydration, and death. As a result of the outbreak, the companies involved in distributing the affected products were required to deliver communications addressing customers on the outbreak to reduce further contact with the disease.
Evidently, The Consumer Protection Act in the food industry holds critical relevance to the quality of food that you receive, as well as the assurance of accurate labelling to promote your safety by preventing severe illness that can be life-threatening.
This Act also ensures that you are able to address your food safety concerns without the expenses of a legal team so that you can protect your consumables, as well as the consumables of other individuals and families.