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Thursday, 16 December 2010






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Crack down on quacks

With the advent of the free economy the market began to be flooded with all types of goods most of them not adhering to any standards and of dubious origin. Among these were the various cosmetics and drugs, lotions, creams all claiming to offer miracle solutions for beauty enhancement and facelifts. These ranged from creams and compounds to improve one’s complexion to those that offered to cure skin related afflictions. There are still lotions in the market claiming to cure baldness. Whether these claims were authentic or not these products were vigorously advertised in the media and the frequency of these advertisements indicated booming sales.

Cashing in on this boom there were fraudsters who turned out counterfeit products preying on the gullibility of the public. Newspapers had been full of instances where fake products were detected in the market with identical labelling and packaging as the genuine product. Today more than any other time there is large-scale counterfeiting of genuine products particularly in the cosmetic field which has a ready market given the sophisticated methods at the disposal of these unscrupulous elements.

It is in this light that the decision taken by the Cosmetic Devices and Drugs Regulatory Authority to permit in the market only those products which are registered with the Authority, should be welcomed. Authority Director Dr Hemantha Beneragama has advised consumers to double check to ensure the product carries its authorization. It has gone further and requested the media too not to accept any advertisements of a product that do not carry the Authority’s endorsement seal.

This in indeed is a good move, for the media had hitherto been used by various parties liberally to promote their products whether genuine or not. This is because the media being a powerful medium it is easy to convince the people of the authenticity of such products. Old timers will recall that the media played a big part to disseminate the claim of a local oracle of the efficacy of a concoction made of Vadakaha to enhance one’s complexion during the solar eclipse of the 1950s. Those dusky damsels needless to say consumed this concoction with gusto only to see them beat a hasty retreat into their toilets with acute bouts of diarrhoea.

This is to illustrate the gullibility of our people which exist to this day. Preying on this weakness imposters and charlatans have a field day foisting dubious products and concoctions on an unsuspecting public. It is also a good thing to have so-called indigenous cures too to be registered with the Ayurvedic Medical Council given the various nostrums and concoctions that are now circulating unchecked from the shelves of the common Vedamahattaya operating in his way side shack to the more respectable Ayurvedic pharmacies not to mention the various Beheth Tel outlets. It is the villagers who are more prone to fall prey to these gimmickry and they should be duly advised on the new measures.

It would also be ideal if the Authority or a similar body extend its campaign to cover those other products that adorn our Super Market shelves. Some of these products widely advertised in the media are of questionable quality and of dubious claim. More often than not, they do not contain the ingredients and inputs that are advertised on their labels. To begin with those various fruit drinks that are attractively arrayed on the shelves of these supermarkets contain only essence and colouring which according to certain medical opinion carries a cancer risk.

There are also other products such as processed meats that contain questionable inputs which once led to fatal consequences. A proper supervision is also needed to ensure that frozen food are not kept in deep freezers for long periods as they are liable to contamination that could lead to food poisoning. Have any authority made a proper analysis of the contents and what goes into such products. These and other similar products are bound to vanish from the shelves of these Supermarkets during the oncoming festive period given the aggressive sales campaigns that are being carried out in the media at present. Ideally this scrutiny should not only be confined to cosmetics but cover all products particularly food items where the risk is greater.

These food chains earn astronomical profits and it is the duty of the authorities to ensure the public do not get a raw deal. Their products too should be brought under the microscope and made risk free to the public. In other countries all products big or small are subject to rigorous scrutiny because there are very active consumer lobbies in these countries who will not stand for the public being fleeced by spurious advertising gimmicks. A similar watchdog body is needed here too to ensure quality standards are upheld.

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