Farmers urged not to taint fruits and vegetables

A plea has been made to consumers in Grenada to purchase their garden produce from established and reliable sources amidst the discovery and confiscation of a crate of tainted avocados destined for neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.

The call was made by Praedial Larceny Operations Officer, Inspector of Police, Eric Peters, who is attached to the Ministry of Agriculture during a press conference last week Wednesday at the Ministerial Complex, located at the Botanical Gardens, Tanteen St. George.

Samples of the tainted avocados

Samples of the tainted avocados

Insp. Peters said that members of the Praedial Larceny Task Force intercepted one individual at the Grenville port in St. Andrew last week Tuesday who has since been charged with receiving stolen goods.

Two others were later arrested and charged for stealing produce under the Praedial Larceny Act of 2005, following a routine check of goods, which revealed a number of tainted avocados with pieces of what was identified as razor blades jammed inside of them.

According to Peters, based on information reaching the unit, the individual whose name remains undisclosed “would have purchased (the items) from individuals who have stolen the fruits,” which carried a total weight of “approximately 50lbs” from a farmer in St. Andrew.

“We intercepted him (trafficker) and decided to ask verification questions as to where he would have purchased…and upon the examination of the produce what we recognise is that there were razor blades in a number of these pears,” he told reporters.

The police officer disclosed that the farmer was also detained for questioning and could be charged for tainting his produce.

He pointed out that while the Task Force “understand the frustrations (farmers may have) with praedial larceny, we certainly discourage those measures being taken because it doesn’t protect you –  what it does is to basically put the entire economy and consumer public at risk.”

He alluded to the potential loss of the well-established trade between Grenada and Trinidad if the contaminated crate of avocados had managed to reach its final destination.

He added that many locals use the avenue of trade in the region as their main source of income.

“This finding (tainted avocados) here would have had the potential of killing that trade between both islands,” he said, as he placed on record the concerns of the Task Force “that many other persons may seek to do the same thing.”

Insp. Peters appealed to vendors and farmers to refrain from tainting their produce “by either putting substances in it that can cause harm or death of individuals,” because the consumer is “an innocent party” who buys produce not knowing its origin.

“It is possible that some of the tainted avocados are on the local market,” he said, since “those individuals (who steal from farmers) may not just sell to a trafficker going to Trinidad but may sell to a vendor coming to town or who may be selling at the Grenville Market…”.

The middle rank police officer urged the public to “be on the look out and inspect their produce properly to ensure that they don’t contain any harmful particles that can cause damage to you or your family.”

“Do not only seek to buy goods, but to also inspect and question the vendors as to the origin of the goods they have up for sale…do not only seek to buy, but buy from established businesses…at the market or supermarket,” he said.

He warned consumers that “if you buy from persons that sell off the streets you have no means of verifying where the produce came from.”
Since 2014, officers attached to the Praedial Larceny Task Force have been mandated to conduct checks at both the St. George’s and Grenville harbours every Tuesday in an effort to crack down on stolen produce being shipped to Trinidad.

Grenada has had 233 reports of praedial larceny within the first six months of the year, 126 in which persons requested court action.

So far 104 charges have been laid by the police.

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