– Public Health Alert!
…As Distell Ghana official beats up journalist in attempt to gag investigation
The drinking public in the country has been beset with a dangerous deadfall, as a popular liquor brand manufacturer appears to have irresponsibly glossed over a duty to mop up expired products off the market.
Lapsed bottles of ‘Hunters Dry’ and ‘Savanna Dry’ cider have been encountered in liquor bars in the national capital, Accra, with one unfortunate patron, a journalist, suffering diarrhea after consumption.
In a double-whammy, however, the same journalist, who apparently suffered food poisoning after consuming the expired products, has also been assaulted by a staff of the company in a bid to gag investigations and exposal.
Mr. Raphael Apetorgbor, a senior reporter with the Daily Express, suffered serious stomach upset last Saturday, after he had consumed a bottle of ‘Hunters Dry’ at a pub in Roman Hills, a suburb of Accra.
Before the stomach upset, Mr. Apetorgbor had been moved by unusualness in the taste of a bottle of the Cider that he had bought, to check out the expiry date of the drink that he was consuming.
It was then that he found out that, even though it was the 12th of August, the drink he was consuming had expired in July 2017.
In a confrontation with the drinking bar operator (name withheld for now) over the issue, Mr. Apetorgbor was told that the drinks had been furnished to the bar by a distributor of Distell Ghana Ltd, apparently in a rush-sale to cut losses.
“According to the bar operator, he realized the drinks (brought to him) were expired but was however advised by the distributor to be cautious when selling them out to the public for consumption because it was a dangerous thing to do,” Mr. Apetorgbor said.
The dangerousness of the sale of expired Hunter’s Dry cider registered with Raphael Apetorgbor later, as he suffered serious stomach upset that was characterized by diarrhea and vomiting.
Doctors explain that expired liquor is dangerous because it leads to bacterial and, in some cases, viral infestation that causes fermentation in the stomach as part of food poisoning.
Some of these food poisoning scenarios lead to death or paralysis later in life, as a victim can carry a bacteria or virus for years as it silently grows in him or her and then multiply.
The realization about possible food poisoning from the consumption of expired Hunter’s Dry jolted Mr. Apetorgbor’s investigative instinct and so the Daily Express senior reporter set about probing the issue which, soon, led to an encounter with another retailer who has several cartons of the beverages in stock.
“He told the Daily Express that the drinks were delivered to him and stated same as said by the first bar operator. He further explained that the distributor told him that, the company, Distell Group Limited, will run at a loss if the drinks were not sold quickly,” Mr. Apetorgbor revealed.
At this stage, the Daily Express reporter realized that he might be having a powerful corporate rogue on his hands, and so invited other journalists, including this reporter from The Republic, to join in the investigation.
The enquiries led to a contact with Mr. Greg Pitt, Country Manager for Distell Ghana Limited.
In reaction, Mr. Pitt said he was not aware of any expired products on the market, but explained that the company recently recalled some products that were almost expired.
He said the recall was in line with company policy: “If the drinks are about to expire, we pull them back from the market. It (this current expired products scenario under investigation) must be an exception and we will address it because we know of the consequences.”
However, he refused to confirm or deny whether the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had been part of the recall process involving the expired products he had referred to, as is required by law; neither did he confirm nor deny that the recalled beverages had been destroyed as specified by law.
On his part, Mr. Jude Matti, Marketing Manager at Distell Group Limited, could not confirm or deny the allegation that Distell has flooded the Ghanaian market with expired products in a bid to cut losses.
“We have communicated to all distributors that if the drinks are in the process of getting expired, they should let us know so that we can collect them” he said on phone.
Mr. Matti had then promised to return with feedback after a personal crosscheck, but calls that were later placed to his phones were not answered.
Rather, a man who called himself Ali Dawud reached the journalists investigating the issue on phone and proposed to meet up to address the issue.
At an open rendezvous at Lapaz, a suburb of Accra, this Dawud guy demanded to be shown the bar where the expired products are on sale.
As guilty manufacturers tend to rush in to clear traces of expired products before the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) can go in and verify, the journalists investigating the matter refused to be persuaded to show the bar in question to Dawud.
This led to Ali Dawud publicly manhandling Mr. Apetorgbor at Lapaz, shoving and punching his chest as part of the assault.
He also accused all the journalists investigating the matter as criminal fraudsters and Sakawa boys.
It had to take this reporter to physically intervene to ensure that Mr. Apetorgbor was not hurt to dangerous proportions by the physically attacking Ali Dawud from Distell Ghana Limited.
Raphael Apetorgbor has since reported the incident to the Tesano police, who have issued him a medical form for medical attention.
Meanwhile, independent investigations by The Republic on Ali Dawud has since also revealed that the man had been impersonating when he introduced himself as such.
“Ali Dawud,” as it turned out, is actually Isaac Mensah, Brands Manager in charge of Liquors at Distell Ghana Limited, local manufacturers of ‘Hunters Dry’ and ‘Savanna Dry,’ who are alleged to have flooded the market with expired products to cut losses.
Distell Ghana Limited is a partnership between Finatrade Group of Ghana and Distell Group of South Africa.
In June 2014, the company commissioned a GHc16million bottling plant in Ghana to locally produce the beverages that used to be imported from abroad.
It is just three years into the commissioning of that plant that expired products are wandering on the market, while an attempt to gag media investigations has led to a Brands Manager doing an imposture to find out a bar outlet so the company, apparently, can quickly go and clean up its mess ahead of FDA investigations.
In an attempt to gag journalists, Isaac Mensah, Brands Manager, had used every dirty trick in the book to tease out information about the location of the bar where expired products from Distell were on sale, before assaulting journalists both verbally and physically after his imposture and monkey tactics had failed.
Public Relations Officer of the FDA, Mr. James Lartey, has since affirmed that it is against the laws of the country to sell expired products.
Mr. Lartey has promised that the FDA will conduct investigation into the issue.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/By Fiifi Samuels