Consumer associations touted to promote standards
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CONSUMERS as it is the case with employers and manufacturers need to have a strong association which will provide them with an easy way to make informed decisions in buying safe and quality products.

Such associations have proved their worthy in many countries as far as standard goods are concerned. On the contrary, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) which is the standard regulator has to intervene to protect consumers’ interests.

According to the Head of Agriculture and Food Standards Section, Mr Lazaro Msasalaga consumers need such kind of an organization which will be watchful during establishment of food standards.

“There are certain levels till we come up with products, but at some stages, stakeholders need to appear before a number of meeting organised, ultimate goal being to have standards that matches with the market demands,” he said.

However, he said, they have been receiving very poor response from the stakeholders during the initial stages of establishing the standards. Surprisingly, he said, once they are in effect, they are the first to start complaining that the standards set are so high while they had a room to give their opinion and expertise at the technical levels.

“It is for the best practices that our market is flooded with standard products, but this can only be possible, if all concerned parties, play their parts well,” he said.

Public awareness is still needed so that all concerned parties, get to know their role in this important gesture as the TBS establishes the standard depending on request and market demand that such products needs to be standardized.

As for the last year alone, 234 standards were developed let alone the need that the existing standards have to be revised every five years. “At times you have a challenge where a manufacturer wants to achieve more than what the science says, at such juncture, there arise the need for a consumer association, as at the end of the day we have to assist industries growth and protect consumers at the same time” said Msasalaga.

A Standard Officer with the bureau, Ms Lilian Gabriel, said the general public needs to understand the importance of establishing standards and contribute their views when invited.

She said she was of opinion that the manufacturers should be keen on what they produce and adhere to standards and quality given and send to the market. Consumers have the final role to determine what they want to take when purchasing any stuff, she said.

Adding should they decide to go for standard goods with TBS mark, then substandard ones will lose market.

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