If what is gleaned in the local press over a huge quantity of confiscated palm oil suspected to be poisonous and therefore taken to the Standards Bureau on Bo for testing turns out to be true, then surely, consumers should be wary of what they eat.
It is puzzling and frightening to imagine that in this 21st century, when our neighbors are far advanced in terms of equipment and reagents to test the efficacy, purity or virility of consumer goods, our own Standards Bureau cannot hold a candle to them.
It is not a matter of the Standards Bureau not having the requisite manpower; it is a question of the Standards Bureau not being properly equipped to challenge current methods and practices in analyzing contents consumer goods with the objective of ascertaining their standard – whether good or not good for human consumption.
The other factor responsible for the poor state of our so-called consumer protection outfits is that most of the people in these consumer protection agencies are simply doing what they have to do to earn a day’s living because many of them are not on payroll.
A case in point is one time when consumer protection officials swooped on a prominent business woman in Freetown who had inadvertently forgotten to return or destroy expired drinks in her possession.
The consumer protection team like the American Bald Eagle swooped on the woman and threatened all manner of threats and even scaring her with a long jail term. Poor woman not wanting to go to jail parted with a hefty sum in millions of Leones. You would think her problems were over, but no, her problems just started because she soon became like a farm with not a day passing without one consumer protection group coming to harvest and until she disposed off the expired drinks did she have respite and the vultures stopped coming.
It may sound grim, but it is the reality of our so-called consumer protection groups.
They register and set up office to ostensibly monitor and report expired products to the Standards Bureau for action.
But in the progress of checking for expired products the consumer protection agents do not fool themselves when they are offered money to pretend they never saw expired goods.
Can you blame them when this is actually supposed to be the work of the Standards Bureau?
Sadly, the Standards Bureau itself is not all that competent at detecting and prosecuting people caught selling expired products.
Rather than seek to arrest the wholesaler of expired drugs (whom they might know very well) they harass the common retailer who buys from the wholesaler.
You see the reason why it is true the Standards Bureau is not up to standard?