Expired Children's Oatmeal Sold at Yerevan City Supermarket: Director Pleads Ignorance

11:30, 17 August, 2011

It appears that Yerevan City, a supermarket chain owned by Armenian MP Samvel Aleksanyan, is selling expired oatmeal.

Recently, Tatevik Gharibyan bought a box of the Preston oatmeal to feed her four year-old son who had been in hospital with an intestinal ailment. When the mother began to prepare the oatmeal she was taken aback by the foul odour.

Tatevik had checked the expiration date at the store but decided to look again. This time she noticed that the date had been glued to the box on a small strip of paper. Removing the slip, Tatevik saw the actual expiration date stamped below.

The oatmeal had expired over a year ago.

Going on what Tatevik told us, we headed to the Yerevan City store located at the intersection of Tzereteli and Bagratounyats Streets.

We went to the shelves and saw two brands of oatmeal with the glued on dates. We purchased one of each.

The expiration date on the strip read July 15, 2011. Removing the strip we then read the actual expiration date – August 15, 2010.

We notified the director of the children's food section. He came over, selected a box, and removed the strip to expose the past due expiration date below.

He, in turn, called over the store manager. The manager came up with the same result.

News of the expired oatmeal went up the corporate ladder. The store deputy director and director were subsequently informed. Each picked up a box of oatmeal and took the test.

We even asked them to take the "smell test". They too noticed the difference.

Deputy Director Artak Gabrielyan refused to admit that the store was responsible, arguing that they were merely selling what they received from their supplier.

He refused to admit who their supplier of the oatmeal is. But Gabrielyan did say that he'd be getting in touch with the supplier and that we could question him directly.

When we asked Yerevan City Director Vahe Movsisyan if the staff doesn't inspect the merchandise received, he answered that they did.

We cooled our heels for around 40 minutes, waiting for the supplier. He never showed.

One hour later, we got a call from Vahram Kirakosyan, director of the Yerevan City supermarket chain, telling us that the supplier had arrived at store on Tigran Mets Street and that we should meet him there.

We should inform our readers that Vahram Kirakosyan tried his best to dissuade us from writing this article.

In return for not publishing the article, Kirakosyan said that Yerevan City would pay off all of Hetq's outstanding debts.

We told him that the article would go forward and again demanded to see the supplier. Kirakosyan finally called him over – Ashot Stepanyan.

Stepanyan told us that he had purchased the Preston oatmeal from a store in Moscow, ostensibly to feed his own kids.

He then said that the kids turned their noses at the oatmeal. Left holding the bag, Stepanyan turned around and sold the oatmeal to Yerevan City for 90 AMD per box.

Flabbergasted, we asked Kirakosyan if Yerevan City is in the habit of purchasing food stuffs from strangers off the street for resale.

Kirakosyan, in a vain attempt to extricate the store from this mess, said that Stepanyan had presented them with a "certificate".

We asked to see the certificate.

Stepanyan answered that it wasn't at the store but in his house.

We suggested that we go to the house and take a look.

It seemed we had crossed an invisible line with Kirakosyan.

He lost his cool and started to walk away.

"Go write whatever you want. You'll see what happens later."