Imagine walking into a supermarket buying a bottle of multivitamin tonic, taking it home, and giving it to your children. But instead of your children growing healthier, the synthetic components of that medicine is slowly killing them without you realizing it.
Well if you are one of the many customers who had bought a bottle of any of the many bogus tonics or multivitamins that are currently on the shelves of several supermarkets countrywide, then maybe you are already likely in a fix regarding your child’s health, or even your own health.
From fake Seven Seas cod liver oil, to fake Dettol soap, to fake Colgate toothpaste, and fake Fruta juices, the Guyana Guardian has uncovered a major racket where at least two importers were somehow able to get Guyanese customs officials along with the Food and Drug Department to look away, while they dump millions of dollars in fake multivitamins, soaps, and various unsafe food products on Guyanese consumers.
It is believed that more than (G$) 300 million dollars in fake and unsafe food products enter Guyana legally each year, while a further $200 million is smuggled in via Suriname and Brazil.
A month-long investigation by this publication at several supermarkets has revealed that salesmen from two particular entities are going around taking orders from various supermarkets, and later delivering the bogus products to the unsuspecting supermarket operators.
Their favorite victims however are the Chinese-owned supermarkets, who for the lack of a clear understanding of the English language, would happily buy the products and proudly display it on their shelves without realizing that what they are selling is actually an obviously fake product.
One businessman was quick to point out that the Chinese are easy targets because they are generally known for selling fake products. But have been largely avoiding this in the supermarkets.
Therefore, even if a local importer had sold them bogus products for retail in the supermarket, public opinion would actually blame them for selling the products, without considering that it was actually the work of two crooked businessmen, who are Guyanese.
However, another well-known customs broker have told the Guyana Guardian that the Chinese themselves are the importers of a lot of these fake food products, but is using a handful of locals to front the imports and to ensure that their flaws are undetected by the relevant authorities.
He added that numerous containers containing these goods are usually then funneled to various warehouses across the country, and then distributed to the Chinese supermarkets and some other willing participants as if it was a sale.
In his opinion, the local salesmen are just covers for the real culprits that are actually importing the fake goods.
He suggested that in the interest of public safety, however, the Food and Drugs Department, and the Bureau of Standards should make random visits to supermarkets throughout the country, at least once weekly.
In that way, it will make it a little harder for the many dangerous fake tonics, fake juices, and other fake products to make their way into the hands of innocent consumers.