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#500753 - 02/06/15 04:07 AM Hot Pink Potatoes? Bogus! Dangerous!  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Not every potato you purchase at the market or eat at a restaurant or resort is safe for consumption. Resort owners in San Ignacio today showed the media that contraband potatoes are being smuggled into Belize from Mexico - and smugglers have taken an extreme and dangerous step to pass them off as the locally produced Irish potatoes: they are dying them pink! Now, you'll know the Irish potato - it's the slightly reddish potato that you see here on the right side of your screen.

Well, in an effort to come off like the regular potato, these contraband potatoes are dyed to have a rosy pink and slightly bright appearance. After hearing of these reports about guests from other resorts getting sick from eating these potatoes the owner of the Maya Mountain Lodge in Cayo expressed his concern about the risks and health hazards involved for consumers.

Bart Mickler, Owner - Maya Mountain Lodge
"We heard about it from other resorts and they don't know for sure, but they are putting their fingers mostly on this. This is a new thing we never seen before and that's why it became the chief suspect. We wrote a letter to the coordinator for agriculture in our district Fay Garnett and she very cordially invited me to come to the Central Farm today to meet with BAHA who have by coincidence to be there. The head of BAHA and quarantine and the whole team was there. They took a lot of interest, they started analyzing it right away and while we were talking, they send a team out to the market. They engaged fast and I felt good that something will going to be done about this. These are bright pink potatoes and it's interesting that they arrive the same day that the first produce from the farmers. Some of my own staff members are farmers and they look and they say that isn't one of ours and that's not even a Belizean product, that's a Mexican white potato that been dyed. I couldn't believe it, they showed how it came off and they immediately took action and got going. My concern is that this is just an opportunity to see how big just the tip of an iceberg to a much bigger problem of the Mexican imported items and contraband and what people go through to make money at the expense of small farmers."

BAHA also sent out a Food safety alert today ensuring the public that they are confiscating the tainted potatoes. BAHA also advised the public to be vigilant when purchasing potatoes. As shown in this picture, the potato labeled 1 is the tainted potato while number 2 is the locally produced red potatoes that are safe for consumption.

Channel 7

Here is a photograph that shows the difference between the two potatoes. The potato labelled number one is the tainted product, and number two is the locally produced red potato.

#500786 - 02/06/15 12:30 PM Re: Hot Pink Potatoes? Bogus! Dangerous! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,988
Marty Online happy
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Dyed Potatoes not a Mystery: Follow the potatoes to the importers

One resort owner complained of sick guests that consumed tainted potatoes that were dyed red if not pink. The complaints and photos on this page showed that those potatoes were not only prevalent in Cayo but also the Belize District and even in Placencia and San Pedro. 15,000 pounds of potatoes that were allegedly brought in by contrabandistas. But the swiftness of the mass distribution across the country is evidence in itself that a few independent people could not have done it.

As the first small batch of potatoes got people sick other small importers roof wouldn't have found any market for the potatoes. But the testimony of many people on this page that all bought these potatoes in such a short span of each other is evidence that a formal, legal and well trusted and established distribution chain was used. How is it possible that all these trusted markets and stores had them so quickly? I've asked a few. They've all bought them from their their trusted supplier. When further questioned under anonymity, they said these potatoes were legally brought into the country. And they also fell victim to legal suppliers who wanted to mask the imported product as part of the local supply. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the police department should pursue the case but they may not want that sack of potatoes to fall on them. A quick check with supplies control will show the few who import potatoes, how much, and how recently they were brought in via the Santa Elena border with Mexico. Also the sales of these importers can also be checked. They should be suffering great losses if they weren't the ones selling these potatoes.

And I've confirmed my investigation with multiple sources.

Jose Sanchez

#500787 - 02/06/15 12:32 PM Re: Hot Pink Potatoes? Bogus! Dangerous! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,376
ScubaLdy Online embarrased
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Does "painted" equal tainted?" What is wrong with the Mexico potato except it being brought in illegally?

Last edited by ScubaLdy; 02/06/15 03:30 PM.

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#500804 - 02/07/15 04:00 AM Re: Hot Pink Potatoes? Bogus! Dangerous! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,988
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Vendors Say Pink Potatoes Not That Bad

Last night the news about the puzzling, possibly poisonous pink potatoes was plastered all over the media. It created quite a public scare, and possibly a justified one. The Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) called them tainted and confirmed that they had been dyed a pink/fuchsia colour - fit to be confiscated, and not for purchase or consumption.

OK, then, that made it very clear: not fit for consumption. But, when we visited the city's biggest market today - we found that vendors weren't so sure about the pink potato's unfitness. They told me the colour won't kill you:..

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
This morning at the Michael Finnegan Market we found one of those rosy pink potatoes that are said to be unsafe for consumption.

Reports are that they were smuggled in from Mexico and dyed to pass off as the locally produced Irish potatoes. But today, some of the market vendors dispelled that notion. They told us that nothing is wrong with these potatoes.

Maria Cowo, Market Vendor
"They say it came in yesterday. We didn't have those kinds of potatoes, we have the white one and the local one."

Courtney Weatherburne
"That are healthy and good for consumption. What have you heard about it because I am sure you hear people talking about it - rumors. Has it made anyone sick? Have you heard reports of that and is it really dangerous for consumption?"

Maria Cowo, Market Vendor
"Okay, the thing is BAHA is saying that the red potatoes are making people sick, but I have lots of customers who buy it for cook and none of them have told me that someone got sick from those potatoes."

Courtney Weatherburne
"You are talking about the pink potatoes? The one that they say are dye and not good for consumption."

Maria Cowo, Market Vendor
"We don't have that one. We have the red one and the local one."

Courtney Weatherburne
"So you don't have any issue with the customers getting sick after buying any of your potatoes?"

Maria Cowo, Market Vendor
"No ma'am."

Nelson Caceais, Market Vendor
"Just the skin that they usually paint, because most of the people are saying that this thing is happening in Cayo, that they are painting the potato to make it look like the Mexican one, so they can sell it here at the market."

Courtney Weatherburne
"So, it's not the contraband potato."

Nelson Caceais, Market Vendor
"It's local potato, but they just paint it. It looks like people doesn't like the local potato and that's why they try it because they cannot sell the potato, that's why they paint it to try to sell it."

Courtney Weatherburne
"To make it look like the Mexican one so they can make sale."

Nelson Caceais, Market Vendor
"Yes ma'am. That is what is happening right now."

Courtney Weatherburne
"So, pretty much you don't heard of any of the customers or anybody that got sick after eating that potato?"

Nelson Caceais, Market Vendor
"Up to now, we don't have anybody complaining to us about the potato. Maybe, you will hear more ahead. I think it's just the skin. I don't think it will sickened people."

And while they say it doesn't make people sick, the scare does affect sales for these market vendors.

Rostia Rivero, Market Vendor
"Contraband potatoes and with chemical and thing, people would not want to use the potatoes. I told them this morning that I know the local potatoes and this is what I have because some of them are afraid of buying the potato now from me, because they feel like that is the same kind of pretty pink potatoe that they are getting and so I told them no, this is our local potatoes that I have to sell."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Have you heard of any of the customers who buy or eat some of the pink potatoes and got sick or poison? You heard of any reports like that?"

Rostia Rivero, Market Vendor
"No. Nobody have told me that they have gotten sick and thing. People tells me that the potato is soft, nice and creamy."

BAHA continues confiscating the potatoes and says it is analyzing the product.

Channel 7

#501477 - 02/24/15 03:41 PM Re: Hot Pink Potatoes? Bogus! Dangerous! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,988
Marty Online happy
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Fake red potatoes were consumer rip-off

In early February, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture issued a joint statement warning Belizeans against purchasing potatoes of a hot pink color which had suddenly appeared on the market.

Local authorities began confiscating the product, which was recently confirmed to be dyed Idaho potatoes.

The Ministry of Agriculture confiscated 1,200 pounds of the fake red potatoes from major stores and supermarkets, but hundreds of pounds were apparently sold off to consumers at a higher market price than what the regular brown-skinned potatoes would have sold for.

Although it was initially thought that someone had imported Mexican potatoes and dyed them in Belize – since it is not routine for Belize to allow the importation of red potatoes, which are produced locally – our newspaper was reliably informed today that a Belizean distributor bought the dyed potatoes in Chetumal, Mexico, from a supplier who died the imported Idaho potatoes specifically for the Belize market, so that higher price tag could be charged in sales to Belizean consumers.

It is clearly a consumer rip-off, our official source indicates, since the purchaser could have sold the produce at a much higher profit margin.

We have not received word of any move by authorities to prosecute the person or persons responsible.

We understand that an official press release is due to be issued tomorrow, Tuesday.

Authorities were alerted when Bart Mickler, owner of Maya Mountain Lodge in San Ignacio, filed a complaint after he bought the potatoes for his business, but later discovered that the “red potatoes” he had bought had been dyed.


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