'Choppies poisoned my baby'

Council finds supermarket guilty of selling expired food * Father seeking compensation for negligence

Botswana’s fastest growing retailer, Choppies could soon find itself in court after one of its products allegedly landed a five-month-old baby in hospital.

The child’s father, 39-year-old Modise Chise intends to sue the supermarket for P300, 000 for selling him Cerelac that was almost two months out of date.

Chise is adamant his daughter’s life was put in danger by the ‘negligence’ of Choppies staff at the Thamaga store where he bought the expired baby cereal on Christmas day.

“Two days later my little girl got really sick. I, of course, took her to the doctors because she was vomiting uncontrollably,” he told The Voice in an exclusive interview.

Chise says he rushed his daughter to SK Medlinks Private Clinic in Thamaga, where doctors diagnosed the infant as having an upset with her digestive system linked to consuming a contaminated food.

The Voice is in possession of a letter dated 29 December 2017 signed by Dr S K Mbwana at SK Medlinks Private Medical Clinic titled, ‘Rethabile Hope Ramasu, Born 21.08.2017.’

In the letter, the attending doctor writes, “I attended Rethabile Hope Ramasu, 5 ½ (months) old on 28/12/2017 with a history of vomiting and cramps following ingestion of Cerelac preparation which had expired (best before 31.10.2017).”

Kweneng District Council have since found Choppies guilty of selling expired food and slapped the Thamaga store with a P1, 000 fine for violation of the Food Control Act, 11 of 1993.

This was confirmed by another letter seen by this publication, signed by the Senior Assistant Council Secretary, Thati Bajammeo dated 05 January 2018.

The letter, titled ‘Routine health inspection report for supermarket licence at Choppies Thamaga’ states that because of the requirement of the Public Health Act, 1981 Cap: 63:01 and the Food Control Act 2003, an inspection of Choppies was conducted on December 29, 2017, at exactly 10:37am in the presence of the store assistant manager.

According to the report, the findings were, “The Cerelac baby cereal with milk of 250g was bought on the 25 December 2017 from Accrete Pty Ltd (Choppies Thamaga) had the expiry on the cereal dated 31st October 2017.”

The report continues, “The assistant manager confirmed the sale of the product and all other expired goods had been removed from the shelves by the time of inspection.”

However, an unimpressed Chise believes Choppies deserve a harsher punishment.

“The truth is I do not know how much damage this has done to my daughter. I work so hard to put food on their table, their mother is not working and for me to be spending money on private hospitals on account of someone’s negligence is not going to happen,” he insisted animatedly.

This is not the first time Choppies have been embroiled in scandal over expired foods.

Newspapers previously reported that the retail store was intentionally selling out of date goods, something which Choppies denied. The claims were later retracted.

Meanwhile efforts to reach Choppies Public relations Officer, Otsile Marole were futile at time of going to press.

Messages were left at her office but there was no response by Wednesday’s printing deadline.

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