By Chito Chavez
With food products bountiful in stalls and markets as the Christmas Season nears, Quezon City authorities appealed to the public to carefully scrutinize, examine, check and inspect their expiry dates to ensure the safety of their families.
In a meeting, Councilors Victor Ferrer Jr., Eufemio Lagumbay and Ranulfo Ludovica issued public caution as stalls, kiosks and other retail and wholesale stores in the city are bursting with food items that the public may purchase with the holidays fast approaching.
They noted that in order to gain valuable discounts local buyers are scouring food outlets early in a bid to buy as much grocery items and other foodstuffs for their Holiday feast.
Ferrer said he sees nothing wrong with the advance purchase but warned the buyers should not to be swayed in buying expired canned goods, processed meat products and similar items served during the holidays as this would put the health of their families and guests at great risk.
He asked the public to obtain their grocery items and food products at reputable supermarkets, groceries and wet markets to ensure that they are safe for consumption.
The group asked the city government to create a special team that will run after syndicated groups that remove the labels of expired products passing them off as food items fit for human consumption.
He asked concerned local officials and national government agencies to be “up on their toes’’ in monitoring all food items being sold to the public to prevent possible epidemics throughout the year.
“People especially the poor are enticed on buying food items at this time at highly discounted prices. However, unscrupulous traders see this as the green light to tamper the expiry dates and labels of canned goods, ’’ Ferrer said.
Lagumbay warned the public to check the expiry dates of the food items they are buying to ensure that the members of their families and friends are being served with excellent and safe dishes.
He added that they should also be suspicious of processed meat like frankfurters, hams, bacons, hotdogs, longganisa, tocino, tapa and other goodies being sold at highly discounted prices.
To ensure the high quality of food items, Lagumbay dissuaded the public on purchasing their needs in obscure and remote groceries and markets selling unlabelled or mislabeled products.
“The thing is getting only the safest food items at the most reasonable prices. Imagine what might be the consequence in getting contaminated food inside your children’s system,’’ Lagumbay said.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has repeatedly warned the public against health concerns when consuming expired food products like canned goods and similar items.
Ludovica also asked the city hall monitoring teams to conduct an intensified inspection of stalls, flea markets, groceries and supermarkets even in the most isolated places where these products are openly sold.
A vendor, who admitted selling expired items, said that consuming items after their expiry dates is still safe saying his customers are aware of the products being sold in his stall.
“Alam nila na kakaexpire lang ng mga powdered milk, keso at butter na binebenta ko. Matagal ko na silang mga customer wala naman silang reklamo sa akin (My customers know that they are purchasing newly expired powdered milk, cheese and butter. They have been my loyal customers for so long but I haven’t received any complaints from them),” the vendor added.
He noted that city authorities should run after big time traders purchasing discolored pork, beef and chicken in bulk and selling them retail to the public.
“May ibang nagbebenta ng karne na masama na ang amoy pero nagagawan ng paraan dahil binebenta ang maga ito ng may mga timplang panakip sa amoy at anggo tulad ng tocino, tapa, teriyaki at iba pang paninda, (There are shrewd businessmen who use foul smelling meats to make tocino, tapa, teriyaki and other processed meat products to hide its bad odor),’’ the vendor added.
The councilors said that he will immediately file appropriate charges against the errant vendors, illegal traders and storage owners for possession of the contaminated meat products being sold in public.
He also wants to enforce stricter measures in the selling of expired food products used as feeds for hogs and cattle to ensure that they do end up being consumed by human beings.