Sunday, October 25, 2009


Consumers world over are dazzled by the bright, shiny and impeccable appearance and ambiance which are hall marks of a well run super market. In a country like India, people seem to have overwhelmingly taken to super market culture and the small scale vendors still survive because of restrictive investment policies of GOI. The major difference between a super market place and the traditional grocer is that lot of pre-opening operations take place before the super market doors are open for the day. As the consumers' proximity and exposure to products displayed is very close, there has to be extra caution to keep the place clean all the time. Controversy has arisen now regarding the type of chemicals used for sanitizing the place and the health hazards posed by such practices.

Sanitation workers feel that not only they are exposed to dangerous cleansing chemicals, even the products on the shelves could get contaminated during the cleaning process. "According to the EPA, one-third of cleaning products today include ingredients that have a negative impact on indoor air quality and human health. These may include carcinogens, asthmagens, skin and eye irritants, and endocrine disruptors associated with cancer, reproductive disorders and other health issues According to the union, 6% of janitors are actually injured by the chemicals they use in supermarkets. Just as it made no sense for the public to unknowingly accept the spraying of DDT and other toxic chemicals on the food that ended up on America's dinner tables, consumers are unlikely to accept toxic chemicals in the supermarkets where they buy their food".

Can such a situation arise in India in future?. Possible, if organized sector of retailing is able to grow and capture a significant percentage of the market and the country should watch closely the experience of others facing the problem now. This will help in evolving a deterrent regime that will ensure safety for the workers as well as the consumers.


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