Muscat: Rats are playing real monsters in our daily lives and that too at the cost of our health and of the food that we consume. They have been found nesting and having a free run of some of the storage areas of shops from where people purchase their daily grocery items.
Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) has expressed extreme concern after it found rats and insects in one of the storage areas at one of the commercial complexes in Al Dhahirah governorate.
"Rats are eating the rice even before we purchase it," an official commented.
However, the PACP said that neither had any of the consumers contacted them, nor was there a direct complaint at the grievances counters of the authority in any of its branches in the Sultanate. "This time, during their routine drive, our law enforcement officers in the directorate of inspection responsible for inspecting commercial complexes discovered the fact which may threaten the lives of people. However, it has been mostly ignored by citizens," it said in a statement.
"The issue is not related to dust or repellents for mosquitoes or flies. This is the horrific scene in one of the storage facilities in a commercial complex in Al Dhahirah governorate. The storage facility was full of rat droppings and numerous insects were found in the bags of rice, other grains and those of other food products," said PACP.
"These rats or rodents are playing peacefully between these consumable goods, as if they are in their homes. This is despite the fact that these items are for sale," the PACP said.
Talking to Times of Oman, both Omanis and expatriates, have welcomed the action taken by PACP and have urged it to launch an awareness campaign among owners of grocery shops and hyper and super markets.
Saud Al Bulushi, a school teacher, said, "I suspected that these things were happening in the storage areas of the shops from where we purchase food items. But there is no way to confirm that until we get access to it. The consumer should get access to such facilities where food items are stored to be assured of the safety of the items they purchase," he said.
In view of the gravity of the situation and the harm it could cause to the general health and safety of the consumer, a case has been registered and the matter has been handed over to the public prosecutor for
"The PACP should launch a massive inspection drive against this negligence. The rats and rodents are not just a threat to our health but cause losses to shop owners as well. Both sides should be pro-active to eradicate this menace," Salma Hamoud, a front desk professional, said.
Article 9 of the consumer rights protection law states that consumers have their right over everything which is related to their health and safety in any of the items and services they get.
The matter was taken to special court which slapped a fine and also punished those responsible under the food safety law.
Mathew Thomas, an Indian civil engineer, said that rodents can carry and spread numerous diseases and viruses.
"At a time when the world is threatened by various kinds of epidemics and communicable diseases, such issues should not be ignored," Thomas said.
Praising the PACP, Kulsoom Rashid, an Indian housewife, said it was doing a great job in terms of protecting the health of citizens.
"These authorities are doing a noble job in Oman. It is not strictly enforced in many countries. I hail from a place where adulteration of food is a big crime. Though, many 'black-marketeers' and adulterators try their best to mix something in wheat, rice, pulses and other grains, once they are caught, it is a big trouble for them. I am confident that there is 99 per cent chance that what we eat here is clean and safe," Kulsoom said.
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