Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Know what you eat!


Papin Muradyan
YSU Journalism Department
Very often, throwing out the packing of a food product, we notice that the product we have just eaten with great appetite is out of the expiration date. Our surveys in 10 shops in the center of Yerevan showed that all of them sold products out of expiration date. And customers, being inattentive, can greatly risk their health.
“The majority of consumers, turning to us for help, suffer because of lack of information”, says the chairman of “Protection of Consumers’ Rights” non-governmental organization Abgar Yeghoyan. He also told us about a citizen who had bought pepper and later noticed that it was mixed with sand. The fact was confirmed by laboratory examination, but the consumer refused to write a complaint saying that the 100-dram pepper was not worth doing that.
In April 2004, Aida Kostanyan bought an “Opera” TV set from an electronic equipment shop located on Mashtots avenue. After the purchase it turned out that the TV set had serious technical defects and even being repaired for several times during the warranty period, it was still unsuitable for use. Finally Aida Kostanyan petitioned to the court. As a result, the shop reimbursed her for the TV set cost and paid a fine of 68000 drams for the nonfulfillment of customer’s requirements, as fixed by the law.
According to the 9th article of the RA law on “Consumers’ Rights Protection” the consumer has the right to demand accurate information on the producer, vendor and the product in Armenian language. Many shops, selling frequently sold food products, like bread or cheese, do not provide any information on the ingredients, producer, and production date of the food products. Salads are sold without a cover and without any information on their preparation, storage and ingredients. Thus, provision or non-provision of information on food products lies on the conscience of vendors.
Another problem is the presence of information in Armenian language on imported products. In these cases, vendors sometimes make use of their translation skills. “It is impossible to print the producer’s name on all the products, but the vendor must provide information on the food product on a separate paper”, says the head of standardization and compliance department of the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development Mr. Robert Dayan. Meanwhile, the 9th article of the RA law “On food security” says that food products imported to Armenia should have information on the producer in Armenian language.   
During January-February 2006 the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development quality control department carried out examinations of products produced in Turkey and discovered a number of defects. Particularly, it was found out that canned “Fresh Peas” did not have proper taste and appearance. Besides, laboratory examinations showed that several chocolate bars (Safari, Derby, Nusse, Shock, Toy-Toye, Aero Shock) contained vegetable oil and flour, which according to standards cannot be used in chocolate making.    
As a result of the examinations, a fine of 2.3 million drams was imposed on the supplier of Turkish products – private entrepreneur “Hasmik Manoukyan”.
Finally, the violated rights of consumers can be recovered only with the help of cash machine checks, which are not available for many consumers. Our surveys in 10 shops of Yerevan showed that the cash machine checks are at best given to consumers only upon request.   

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