Beware of bootlegged Gatorade

blue@samoanews.com

The folks at Pago Pago Trading Company (PPTC) are urging the community to be on the lookout for Gatorade products that are being sold in local stores, because some are allegedly not authentic and "could make people sick."

Currently, PPTC is suing Pacific Mini Mart in Tafuna for parallel shipping and a trial date is yet to be scheduled. According to PPTC general manager Ella Ae Gurr, they have been in and out of court with Pacific Mini Mart, whose representative told judges during the most recent court proceedings that he does not speak English.

With the ASHSAA sports season in full swing, and the occasional heat wave that creeps up on locals every week, Gurr said their concern is for the safety and health of the people who consume Gatorade products, especially kids.

Attend any one of the ASHSAA football games on the weekends and you're sure to see dozens of athletes, and spectators, with Gatorade bottles in their hands.

PPTC is the sole distributor of Gatorade products. Gurr said the distinction carries with it a huge responsibility as far as ensuring that the products are authentic, and liability issues are at the forefront in business dealings.

She said they've been made aware that Pacific Mini Mart has been selling - and wholesaling - Gatorade sports drinks but she can't say where the company is getting its supply, "but for sure, it isn't from us."

"Our perspective - we have to be able to protect our distribution rights because if the product gets anyone sick or needs to be recalled, we will get approached and have to take on the liabilities," Gurr explained to Samoa News earlier this week. "But how can we be liable for others bringing in Gatorade? I have no idea where they are sourcing the product."

According to her, businesses that sell fake knock offs rape the economy of quality and standards, for profit.

Inspectors from the Department of Health recently shut down - for one week - operations at Pacific Mini Mart for unsanitary conditions. It was during that week that PPTC officials contacted DOH to assist with weeding out the questionable Gatorade products being sold there.

Samoa News contacted DOH Chief Inspector Onosa'i Aulava yesterday and he confirmed that he and his crew confiscated three cases of Gatorade from the store, because the product looked "old" and it appeared as if some of the additives were settling at the bottom of the bottle.

Aulava explained that their role is to remove products that are unsafe for consumption and added that the Gatorade they removed was not stored properly. "It looked like it had been sitting in storage for far too long and by the time they were put up for sale, the appearance just wasn't right."

Samoa News understands that officials from Pacific Mini Mart claim they are not bringing the Gatorade products in to the territory but instead, they are buying it from another local supplier whose identity is yet to be revealed.

But Gurr contends that the information she received from Customs is that a container carrying 700 cases of Gatorade had landed and was delivered. Of course, it didn't belong to PPTC, the sole distributor.

"Store owners who are bringing in the items that we hold sole distributorship for are riding off of our success," Gurr said. "A huge amount of money goes into maintaining a product's image, advertising, promoting, etc., and it only takes one mishap for everything to spiral downwards."

She described the situation as being "risky" and said she has tried to get a restraining order to immediately stop the sale of Gatorade by Pacific Mini Mart.

"We knew the product was coming in, but didn't know it had floating particles in them," Gurr said. (See photo). "I don't know how many stores are selling the Gatorade from Pacific Mini Mart but the public needs to be warned that it is not authentic, it is not from us."

According to her, when she tried to input the bar code off the label of the Gatorade being sold at Pacific Mini Mart, no information could be obtained. She explained that the bar codes usually reveal the lot, batch, and other pertinent manufacturing information of a product.

Gurr said it's one thing to wholesale the product to one store, but actively mass distributing it on the market is just wrong. She said there are no laws to protect them and the government needs to do something about it.

Samoa News understands that Gurr has reached out to the Attorney General's Office and she was told by one of the legal counsels there - in not so many words - that basically, in order for them to step in, someone has to get sick or die from consuming the product.

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