COMMENTARY: Consumer Affairs Watchdog In Slumber

Audley Phillip

by Audley Phillip

The  Prices and Consumer Affairs Division is the consumer protection and advocacy arm of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Division  is charged with the responsibility to safeguard the economic interests of consumers through three main areas:

  • Consumer Redress/Protection
  • Consumer Education and Empowerment; and
  • Consumer Research
The local consumer watchdog agency, the Prices & Consumer Affairs Department seem to be in a deep slumber.
A few days ago,  the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division issued an advisory assuring the public that the Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies that are currently being recalled have not been found on shelves in Antigua and Barbuda.
Nabisco’s parent company Mondelez Global recall announcement referred to the cookies possibly having “an unexpected solidified ingredient.” It furthered stated that “in some instances, the cornstarch in our Chewy Chips Ahoy! recipe did not fully incorporate in the mixing procedure and solidified in the baking process.”
The recall covered 13-ounce packs of the cookies with best by dates of 07SEP2019, 08SEP2019, 14SEP2019 and 15SEP2019.

In their original press release, the  Prices & Consumer Affairs division said “Over the past two days the Division has conducted extensive investigations into the recalled good and we are satisfied, that no supplier or retailer in Antigua and Barbuda has the good on the shelf or in their possession.  We are therefore assuring consumers that food items with this brand name that are currently being offered for sale in the marketplace are safe and do not meet the recall requirements.

“The Division takes issues of recalls seriously and we are committed to protecting consumers from any potential hazard.”

Fast forward a day later and out comes another release stating that after careful review they have uncovered that the recalled Chewy Chips Ahoy! Cookies is actually in Antigua and Barbuda and they are advising consumers not to eat the product.

Clearly, the department did not undertake the proper checks before issuing the first press release because the item was found in one of the largest and most popular supermarkets. Their action does not inspire great confidence in the division and I am calling for an investigation to be carried out to determine how a press release was issued before careful and thorough checks were done.  
I hope that this matter is not just swept under the carpet because such mistakes can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the general public.  It is time that we hold people accountable for their actions.

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  1. Accountable for their actions.
    What a joke.
    Name one government minister or agency that has ever been held accountable for their actions.
    Not in this country.
    We live in the lazy self enriching wild west.

  2. I agree with the author. That division is sound asleep. The only time you hear from them with their hypocrisy is on World Consumer Rights Day. After that, they fall back into a coma

  3. someone needs to be held accountable for the incorrect first press release! It cannot be business as usual at the Prices and Consumer affairs… this place needs a shake up.

  4. Shake up? Really? When every agency in Antigua has political appointees, people with jobs without any credentials in that field. Look at any government work place. Most are filled with workers either rocked back on their phone or filing nails or putting on makeup. When last have these persons checked supermarkets and businesses places. The scale between places of business in Antigua is a wide scale. You have products in one supermarket selling for dollars more in another establishment. One tend to wonder if they use the same formula for pricing. All in all this agency is staffed by lazy persons who comes to work in the morning and hope afternoon comes quickly. Month-end run to the atm like they worked for the money. If the top slack the bottom can’t tight.

  5. That department should just close.
    When price tags in stores are obviously SUPERoverinflated and bogo is nothing but a rip off, who is protecting the consumer really?
    Why does one have to ‘ report report report ‘ the obvious, while the merchants are not at all bothered because what are the outcomes?

    • I agree with you! why do we have to report everything? don’t they investigate on their own? thank God for ABS Who investigated and found the cookies on the shelf and brought it to their attention!

  6. I would like to see reports of statistics from this department. How many cases/complaints were filed versus how many were actually resolved.

  7. You can tell they are DEFINITELY ASLEEP since they have yet to respond to this article or other criticisms leveled at them. Probably not even aware because they are still dreaming.

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