KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 2

The ‘use by’ dates on some popular imported snacks, such as Pringles potato chips, Oreo biscuits, along with cosmetic items available in the market may have been changed by some unscrupulous traders to increase their shelf life.

The Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection, in association with the Metropolitan City Police, had sealed Ayan Distributors Pvt Ltd and Amazon Distributors Pvt Ltd yesterday for replacing labels on wrappers of food items.

“As some of the goods have already been supplied to the market, the department has deployed inspection teams to recall those items,” said Rabindra Acharya, spokesperson for the department, adding, “We are working to find and destroy those items as soon as possible.”

Acting on a tip-off that both the aforementioned companies were replacing expiry dates on some imported products, DoCSCP and Nepal Police had conducted a sudden inspection of the companies yesterday, he said.

According to him, three warehouses were sealed, where the company workers were found changing labels on wrappers of food items. Goods worth around Rs 10 million have also been sealed there.

“We caught them red-handed while they were changing dates on expired food products.

They bought expired food products from the market and were changing labels to put them back in the market,” he said, adding, “They had procured a machine that can remove the original date and add a new one that looks like the real one.”

According to him, the department found that workers were changing labels of food items, such as Snickers, Pringles potato chips, Oreo biscuits, Bournvita, Horlicks, Mars chocolates, besides cosmetic items of Unilever company.

As per the Consumer Protection Act, this is a grave crime, he added.

According to Acharya, the department had been extra vigilant about spike in such illegal activities after the government lifted the lockdown.

“We had deployed our officials to different areas to monitor such activities.”

The deployed officers had informed DoCSCP about illegal activities of the two companies.

As the case is serious and directly related with consumers’ health, eight people — seven workers and Roshan Batra, chief of Ayan Distributors — have been arrested. The department, however, has yet to take action against the officials of Amazon Distributors.

The department is in the process of filing a case against the accused in the court.

Nepal Police could book them for fraud, while the department will charge them under the Consumer Protection Act-2018.

The department is preparing to file a case against the enterprises demanding to send those responsible behind bars and seek applicable compensation amount, he added.

Ayan Distributors Pvt Ltd is the local distributor of business conglomerate Vishal Group.

Acharya claimed that names of more people responsible for the heinous crime were likely to surface.