The voice of the small man is seldom heard

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 15/09/2015 | 00:00

Has it ever crossed your mind how safe or unsafe the food is that you buy in a shop? These days it's a long chain that gets the food from the producer to the shop. One break on that tenuous link and we all could be in trouble.

When working at The Kerryman I was tasked with going out and about in the county, writing stories on people and things I met in my travels. On one occasion I came across a plastic bottle of milk which I was able to open without breaking the seal. I wrote a story about the faulty milk top. The Co-Op that sold the milk was not too happy with my 'find' and as far as I can remember they had words with the editor about the story.

That must have been more than 10 years ago. Lo and behold, on holidays during a rain-drenched week in Kerry in early August this year once again I came upon a plastic container I could open without breaking its seal. Since then I have managed to open another two keeping the seal intact. I have them safely put away at home.

This time the containers were bought in Lidl stores in Kerry and Dublin. The original container bought 'back in the days' came from a different milk supplier and was bought in a different shop.

Since I wrote the original story I often check milk/cream tops to see can I open them without breaking the seal. Over the years I have found a number. On one occasion I contacted the store where I bought the milk/cream. I was assured by the store and the supplier that the matter had been resolved.

The matter has not been resolved. Okay, I can see you say I have little to worry or annoy me. That's not the point. The point is that there are so-called tamper-proof milk/cream containers on Irish shelves which are not 'tamper-proof' and they have been on Irish shelves for over 10 years now. It means that it is possible for someone to get one of these containers, put something in it and then replace it on the shelf. An unsuspecting shopper picks it up, buys it, drinks it and something happens. All hell would break loose. Public enquiries would be held. We might even hear that the product manufacturer had no idea such a faulty product was on a shelf anywhere in the country.

What is most annoying is that it appears the voice of the small man/woman is seldom if ever heard.

This saga has been going on a long time. Imagine if that had been discovered by some personality, some person with clout, of course heads would roll: the manufacturing process would change and the problem would be solved. End of story.

This sort of thing happens far too often in Irish society and most times it is only after the horse has bolted is something done about it. It is simply not good enough.

Over the years I had kept a few of the faulty tops, just in case. But eventually some time back I threw them out. I simply couldn't be bothered. But now I am bothered. I am annoyed that this is still going on and I want someone, somewhere to make sure that it is not possible to buy a product in Ireland which is potentially dangerous and is also misleading the customer. Too late to close the door after the horse has bolted. Fix it now please.

Wexford People

Read More