Got Watery Milk? Or Useless Roach Killers?

May 21 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Adulteration is getting out of hand. Consumers in Ethiopia are being left to their own devices, with authorities tasked with consumer protection failing to do their job. Take the little creatures that are impossible to get rid of from our houses. I have been sheltering them at home rent free for almost four months now.

The guests prefer the kitchen as they happen to adore food. I cannot go around the house without noticing their presence. They know that they are not welcome in the house, but they extend their stay and refuse to leave anyway.

But where is my hospitality? Are guests not welcome in my house?

They are, but I am referring to a small species that has infested my home, especially the kitchen – cockroaches. My kids, who often see me killing these creatures by hitting them with my flip-flops, are now my partners in crime. My daughter, unfortunately, thinks they are food. I cannot walk into the kitchen at night and not see them; they do not even sleep. They are always going somewhere as if they are on a mission.

Worse still, none of the gels or sprays sold in the market can kill them. None of them works. I have spent a lot of money trying to get rid of them, but nothing has been successful so far. I can imagine the disappointments many like me experience as the majority of these commercial products are close to useless.

“There is actually more things claiming to kill cockroaches than the cockroaches themselves,” goes a meme on social media. Is false advertising not illegal? Where are the authorities?

At least, the misleading advertising of roach killers is not directly dangerous to individuals. It is not something people consume. It becomes worse when it is food adulteration. Many people have noticed, for instance, that milk does not taste the same lately. The standard milk brands we find in the market taste more like water. This is even though prices have increased by half to 30 Br (even more at some shops).

What is the premium for if it does not at least guarantee a similar taste?

One possible explanation is that it has been tampered with somewhere along the value or supply chain. Some people believe that whoever distributes or makes it adds way too much water to it. I would not be surprised if that were the case because we are used to seeing similar acts being done to injera and berbere. Hopefully, the tamperers have a better conscious than those that combine injera with gypsum, and clay with berbere – hopefully, it is clean water being mixed with the milk.

But why is any of this being tolerated? Why is tampering with products to increase volume, and false advertisement not being put a stop to it by the authorities? Where is the consumer protection authority?

Not long ago, I watched a video on TikTok of a group of people pouring water from a water truck. It was water used to clean the streets into jars and then selling them as drinking water. Can anyone imagine babies as old as six months drinking or taking that kind of water with their food? The repercussions on public health are alarming. I sometimes give milk to my children without boiling it because it is labelled “pasteurized” on the package. These days, I do not know if I still trust those labels or any other locally manufactured product.

The other product that was supposed to be imported but adulterated is bags of rice. It used be reliable, then all of a sudden the taste changed. There is a test one can do to tell whether if it is real organic rice or rice mixed with plastic. It turns out there was plastic in it. Such infractions cannot go unpunished lest they proliferate beyond control.

PUBLISHED ON May 21,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1151]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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