Thursday 23 May, 2019

Rambharat: Avoid buying 'nasty, old' imported chicken

Locally produced chicken should be consumers’ choice over “cheap, nasty” imported chicken.

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat made the suggestion as he said people would always speak about the need to reduce the country’s food import bill, but still purchase imported meat over local meat because it is cheaper.

He made the remarks while delivering the feature address at the inaugural National Cocoa Awards at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) on Sunday evening.

Speaking on the reality of food fraud, Rambharat questioned why Trinidadians should be consuming three-year-old chicken that is not safe for human consumption.

“Why should we…if the United States, is not allowing chicken to be sold beyond 180 days of slaughter, why should we be accepting cheap, nasty, imported chicken when we have a strong and vibrant poultry sector in this country?”

Noting that most of the fish on restaurant menus is incorrectly labelled as a more expensive fish, the Minister said local consumers must take an interest in where there food is coming from.

“95 per cent of the fish sold in restaurants is not what they say on the menu it is. The most pervasive fish is white fish. Tilapia is second, and there’s a good chance that your expensive snapper, for example, is either white fish or tilapia.”

He stressed the need for consumers to support local farmers.

“If you as local consumers are not interested in safe, local fish, not interested in knowing where your food comes from, not interested in supporting your local fisherfolk, and your local communities, then I can’t force you to eat what is local.

I can only provide you with the information, and tell you that food fraud is real. Fake food is real, and if you’re seriously concerned about your life, then you should focus on this issue of food safety.”

Concerns over the quality and safety of imported meat were first raised at a Joint Select Committee hearing in June 2016, where President of the Trinidad and Tobago Poultry Association Robin Phillips revealed that citizens may be consuming imported chicken considered to be pet meat in developing countries.

In 2017, the Committee was also informed that imported pork was being dipped in harmful chemicals in an effort to keep them looking fresh, then repackaged and offered for sale to the public.

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