The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is urging supermarkets to shape up and clean up, according to the department.
“DLCA has received several reports from consumers concerning the deplorable conditions in supermarkets ranging from unclean floors to shelves that are dirty and in disarray,” DLCA Commissioner Devin Carrington said in a statement that was headlined as part of an "effort to end gross conditions and protect consumers."
"Of particular concern are reports concerning outdated food products on display for sale on supermarket shelves, rotten fruits and vegetables and improperly functioning freezers that result in consumers purchasing meat products that are spoiled. Consumers, unfortunately, only realize they have purchased unusable items after they arrive home to use the product," he said.
Carrington said he has told storeowners "have the right to receive the highest quality of produce and food items for the hard-earned dollars they spend."
"This is especially so since the prices here are disproportionately higher than national rates. It is obvious that the days of inferior and outdated products rejected by stateside supermarkets being dumped in the Virgin Islands for sale are not behind us,” Carrington said.
“I would hate to conclude that Virgin Islands consumers are somehow viewed by owners of these establishments as not worthy of the most exceptional treatment as consumers.”
DLCA continues to conduct its regular monitoring and inspections of these establishments and to issue citations where warranted, he said, asking the public to let DLCA know if it sees unacceptable conditions.
"It is with the help of consumers that the department is able to become more aware of the types of unacceptable conditions described here,” he said. "Consumers should bring to the attention of store management that such inferior items being on the shelves is unacceptable.”
“If concerns are not addressed, consumers should take any measure necessary to let other consumers know of the conditions. Negative publicity is never welcomed by businesses,” he added.
The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is currently forming a consumer advocacy group to report and address what the issues are when the public obtains or consumes goods and commodities in the Virgin Islands. Individuals interested in serving as member of the Consumer Advocacy Group, or to report concerns regarding business misconduct, are asked to contact DLCA at 714-3522 on St. Thomas, 713-3522 on St. Croix and 690-8036 on St. John.