ZABS intensifies market surveillance, inspections

I WAS privileged last week to join a team of inspectors from the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) who had gone to Copperbelt Province to conduct market surveillance inspections on goods that fall under mandatory standards.
The market surveillance inspections were intended to monitor compliance levels by suppliers on regulated products. The purpose was to create awareness about ZABS and how it is working with other state agencies to protect the consumer by ensuring that their health and safety is safeguarded. The inspections were intended to educate industry about good manufacturing practice.
Only safe products are allowed to be placed on the market. But in spite of this, dangerous products are regularly discovered not only in Zambia but the world over. And it is through market surveillances and inspections that such products are identified and corrective measures are employed.
During these operations, public authorities inspect products on the market to ensure that they fulfil all legal requirements including that they are correctly marked or labelled and tested. Market surveillance aims to ensure safety, health and consumer protection as well as fair competition between companies.
The priority of ZABS in market surveillance and inspection activities is to ensure human health and product safety. ZABS undertakes market surveillance and inspections to ensure that the products our citizens purchase on the market are in line with health and safety requirements.
I have mentioned in previous columns that there are voluntary and mandatory standards in Zambia. And you will also recall that I have mentioned that ZABS regulates those products that fall under mandatory standards. This, I believe, explains why ZABS does not regulate all the products as the perception may be out there. Some of the products that fall under mandatory standards, include bottled water, biscuits, fruit flavoured drinks, cooking oil, fertilisers and electrical appliances, to name but a few.
It is these products that we were targeting when we took that long, yet vital trip to Chililabombwe, Ndola and Kitwe on the Copperbelt. The findings of these surveillance inspections will be communicated to you in another column because by press time, we had not yet concluded the operations.
However, on February 6, 2015, ZABS, joined forces with the CCPC, the magistrate court and the Kasama Municipal Council to conduct an operation around the town center of Kasama to check for compliance levels on regulated products. A market surveillance was conducted from sampled shops and inspections were carried out to check among other things, the expiry dates of selected products.
As a result of that operation, the team confiscated and later incinerated fruit flavored drinks known as Shambala in granadilla flavour worth K810.00. The manufacturer of Shambala juice was identified as Matonjeni, and it was distributed by Million General Dealers Limited. The shelf-life of the expired products indicated that the juice had actually expired on the September 5, 2014. Yes, that is right, September 5 last year!
During the same operation, 600 cases of 2-litre containers worth approximately ZMK556,567 were held as the product was suspected to be bulging. The team collected samples and sent them to ZABS head office for testing and analysis.
I have said this before, and am saying it again; we do not thrive or delight in meting such penalties on our suppliers and manufacturers. We wish to see manufacturers voluntarily embracing good manufacturing practice and consumers who are quality conscious.
The sale of non-compliant, defective or substandard products poses a high risk to the health and safety of unsuspecting consumers and is a violation of the Standards Act, Cap 416 of the laws of Zambia. Suppliers and distributors are strongly warned against selling expired and substandard products and ZABS will not relent in ensuring that only quality products are put on the market.
The operation in Kasama underscores the need for ZABS to decentralise its services even further. We therefore appeal to you our citizens to access these services that have been brought right to your doorsteps and utilise them.
Authored by, Head Marketing and Public Relations.
Write to the Director,
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House
Freedom way South End
P O Box 50259
Tel; 231385