Head of funeral directors peeved at rebranded water bottles ploy
NCRA launches probeWednesday, July 14, 2021
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — The National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) has launched an investigation into reports that funeral operators in sections of western Jamaica are rebranding bottled water as part of a marketing tool to attract clients.
The marketing push has also earned the wrath of president of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors, Calvin Lyn.
“For the integrity of the profession, which is a dignified profession, I would ask these people who are trying to bribe the relatives [of the deceased] to stop,” a furious Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.
He said those engaged in the marketing ploy are untrained funeral providers who are hustling to undercut those trained in mortuary science.
It has become the norm for some funeral operators to offer cases of customised water in their packages. One funeral home listed a package deal — with a $280,000 price tag — that includes 100 programmes, 25 pins, two wreaths, a casket that has glass at the upper half and is transported chariot style, two death announcements aired on radio, and two cases of water. In some cases the customised bottled water comes at an additional cost. The bottles are typically emblazoned with images of the deceased, as well as the usual information such as dates of birth and death and the funeral home's contact information. These labels usually replace the ones that originally came with the bottled water.
The water bottles being used, Lyn said, appear identical to that of a well known brand. He said he has contacted the company about his findings but has not yet received a reply.
Meanwhile, in a written response, the NCRA whose mandate covers labelling standards, told the Observer that an investigation is under way into the reports.
“The NCRA is not aware of this 'rebranding' practice. There is a registered processor of water in Hanover who does contract packaging for a number of business entities, including a funeral home. An investigation is now ongoing to verify if this practice is being done,” it said.
The NCRA is the regulatory division of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and, according to its website, has oversight for pre-packaged food establishments.
“The enforcement authority of the NCRA is against improperly labelled products and thus, if the water is not properly labelled and only has a deceased person's photo on it, as opposed to meeting the requirements as per the labelling standard, then the NCRA can take action where the product is being offered for sale or catering,” said the authority.
It stressed, however, that it has no jurisdiction over products that have been tampered with, a practice which may be the subject of a civil suit filed by the manufacturer, and a matter for the police.
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