Grog adulteration

The public has been urged to report unscrupulous kava dealers to the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) if they find their kava product being adulterated. Picture: SUPPLIED

A NEW trend is slowly seeping into the kava industry given the shortage of kava supply.

With the high price of the kava product and huge demand scrupulous kava sellers are resorting to mixing the pounded kava with flour to make up the volume.

This was especially felt by Fijians living overseas who ordered large volumes of the kava powder but received the shock of their lives when they started mixing it.

Peni Gucake, a resident of New Zealand, found out the hard way when he tasted the kava he had ordered.

“I had purchased 1kg kava from a local market; it was advertised as waka and once you mix it you can’t really smell that strong kava scent with that grog,” Mr Gucake said.

“You wouldn’t know it’s mixed with flour until you let it settle and you will find the flour sediments actually drop to the bottom of the basin.”

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) acting chief executive officer, Seymour Singh, said their organisation was mindful of the fact that some kava dealers may be involved in this practice because ofcompetition.

“While the FCCC has not received any complaint as such from the members of the public, however it is mindful of the fact that there maybe a handful of traders/kava dealers out there using unfair trade practices to address competition,” Mr Singh said.

“Due to shortage of supply, they may be resorting to such acts but it will not be entertained.”

Local market prices for kava have hit the roofs lately with prices causing dealers to make shortcuts in order to make a quick buck.

At local markets, waka being sold at $100 a kg and this has affected the supply and demand. Mr Gucake said there were things people should be mindful of when purchasing kava.

“People need to watch out for those bogus sellers and not be lured to buying cheap stuff,” he said.

“It could be happening but people aren’t talking about it maybe out of shame that it happened to them.”

Mr Singh is urging the public to raise such matters in a timely manner so that appropriate action can be taken.

“Consumers who feel that the kava they have bought is adulterated,they should immediately notify FCCC and they will need to bring the product with them to the nearest FCCC office as it will need to be scrutinised and/or be sent for testing,” he said.

“If the product is found to be adulterated, appropriate action will be taken against the kava dealer.” FCCC is located at 42 Gorrie St inSuva and affected consumers can contact them on 8921 991.