Saudi Arabia: Crackdown on substandard dates in Riyadh
The unhealthy merchandise (above) and some suspects (below) seized in the raid. Image Credit: Okaz

Cairo: Saudi authorities have caught illegal Arab expatriates involved in storing substandard dates unfit for human consumption and reselling the popular product with deceptively new expiry labels.

In a midnight raid on a suspected site inside an apartment in southern Riyadh, inspection teams from the Ministry of Commerce, in conjunction with the Ministry of Human Resources and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, exposed the practice that involved wrapping the dubious dates in new packets carrying labels of premium types of the fruit.

Seven suspects were referred to public prosecution to face legal procedures over violating the kingdom's anti-commercial fraud law.

The seized stuff included 400kg of substandard dates, 3,000 empty plastic packets, 5,000 cardboard crates used for packaging, 100,000 stickers carrying names of multiple palm dates brands and bogus expiry labels.

Under Saudi law, commercial fraud is punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of SR1 million or one of the two penalties, besides naming to shame the offender after a final verdict is issued. Moreover, if the offender is a foreigner, he/she will be deported from the kingdom and barred from re-entry.