Consumer rights advocate for healthier choices


Shoppers around the world are being urged to make healthier buying choices ahead of World Consumer Rights Day next Sunday.

The theme for this year’s event is Helping Consumers Choose Healthy Diets and to mark the occasion, the Division of Consumer Affairs began a week of activities on Monday.

Nutritionist Medical Benefits Scheme, Dorothy Graham Charles said given that most consumers had unhealthy diets, the theme is important to the national effort to reduce obesity.

She added that it is especially important for consumers to understand the labels on food packaging.

“General nutritional information is important for people to have,” she said, “but as a consumer, understanding labels, how to read labels, the nutritional claims, and the meanings of certain claims and certain names are important for consumers to understand (in order to) make informed choices.”

Health and wellness consultant, Rexford James, who appeared on Monday’s edition of OBSERVER AM agreed, noting that becoming food-label savvy will help residents get to and maintain a healthy weight.

“Consumers should learn to read food labels and become aware of portion sizes and calories. Be aware of low-fat and non-fat, and low-fat doesn’t necessarily mean low-calorie.”

“We should learn to eat smaller portions when eating high-calorie food.”

Meanwhile, Consumer Affairs Officer, Collette Browne reminded shoppers that the law entitles them to a full refund on all defective purchases.

She advised consumers to invoke their right to a refund immediately, as opposed to accepting an exchange or store credit.

“There are times they may offer you an exchange or a credit note, but we say to consumers, ask for a full refund. That’s what you’re entitled to.”

“Consumers who have accepted a credit note and then they come to Consumer Affairs asking if they’ve done the right thing. The minute you accept that credit note … you’ve told the trader you’ll come back another time,” she said.

“The Consumer Affairs Division cannot go back now and ask for a refund.”

Browne also reminded storeowners that putting up misleading signs about exchanges and refunds is an offence. She told shoppers to ignore any signs that indicate they cannot exchange items or get refunds.


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