Expiry date confusion causes jitters

SINGAPORE - Is valudollar selling expired products?

That was the question raised after administration executive Joanne Yang bought two tubes of Vaseline Lip Therapy from the store which had a new expiry-date sticker pasted over one that indicated the product had already expired.

The 29-year-old bought the tubes last Saturday at the Valu-Dollar shop in Compass Point.

In photos she posted on citizen-journalism site Stomp, the original sticker showed that the expiry date was Feb 16 this year, while the sticker pasted over it stated "May 2015".

Ms Yang lodged a complaint with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

"I am worried (and) don't know which Vaseline product is safe to use now. I will change the brand of lip balm I use," she said.

ValuDollar is known for selling products like snacks and toiletries at bargain prices.

A ValuDollar spokesman clarified yesterday that the Vaseline Lip Therapy tubes it sells have not expired.

"The 2013 date was a misprint and, hence, the importer rectified the error by placing another sticker on top of the misprinted sticker," said the spokesman.

He added that none of the items sold in ValuDollar are expired products.

The HSA said it was "in the process of investigating the case and will take the necessary actions to protect public health and safety".

"An expired cosmetic product is deemed to be unwholesome under the Health Products Act. It is an offence under the law for any person to sell or supply an unwholesome health product," it added.

The penalty is a fine of up to $50,000, a jail term of up to two years, or both.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said that under the Consumer Protection Fair Trading Act, "it is an unfair practice for the supplier to make a false claim about the expiry date or mislead the consumer by not doing or saying anything about the wrong expiry date".

Case said a shop is "answerable to consumers if it sells expired goods", and consumers have the right to seek redress under the law.

Errant retailers may be fined.

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