Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Greens from TRASH but they're still FRESH

So says KL health official of veggies picked up by Myanmar scavengers and sold in market
WHEN we make a trip to the market to buy vegetables, we usually just do a visual check for their freshness.
The Electric New Paper
30 September 2008

WHEN we make a trip to the market to buy vegetables, we usually just do a visual check for their freshness.

But would you buy the veggies if you were told that they were actually picked up from dumpsites, even if they were certified safe for consumption?

That was what had been taking place in a wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Scavengers from Myanmar had been foraging through decaying vegetables discarded at dumpsites at the Selayang wholesale market, reported the Malay Mail. They then packed and sold them to unsuspecting pasar malam traders and restaurants.

And the local authorities have certified the vegetables as fit to eat.

Officers from the Health Ministry, the Gombak district and City Hall Health Department had visited one of the markets believed to be selling the discarded vegetables and confiscated them for tests.

An official from the Health Ministry was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying that tests found the greens to be free from germs, chemicals, microbes and pesticides. He also said the vegetables were found to be fresh enough to be sold.

'We have done all the preliminary tests on the vegetables and found that they are not tainted,' said the official. 'The only laws that the Myanmar nationals are breaking are the immigration law and conducting businesses without licences.'

His remarks have set health experts questioning why the vegetables were discarded in the first place. They also wanted to know how many times and what kinds of vegetables were tested, and why the ministry was sanctioning the sale and consumption of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, prompted by the Malay Mail's report, KL Mayor Ab Hakim Borhan visited the wholesale market with the Immigration Department, Selayang Municipal Council and an Alam Flora representative.

They personally inspected the market for cleanliness, enforcement and facilities.

UN protection for refugees Datuk Hakim was said to have been shocked at what he saw, but he said
that immigration officials could only confiscate the refugees' goods but not arrest them as they were protected under the United Nations refugee programme.

He said he would discuss the matter with the immigration department and the UN refugee programme.

'We will look into their plight and see if the workers could be provided with legal work documents,' he said.

He added that in order to curb the growth of illegal traders at the wholesale markets, a special vehicle sticker will be issued by the City Hall Health Department.

Business operators in the markets were hiring the Myanmar refugees without work permits as assistants because local people were not keen to do the work.

Some of these Myanmar nationals are involved in the sale of discarded vegetables as a means of extra income.

Datuk Hakim said that security in the area will be beefed up by having officers work on three shifts to guard the market at all times.

'Though the market operates from 2am-11am, the peak hour is around 3am when many illegal operators are active,' he said.

'To make sure that the operations run smoothly, we will place our officers at the entrance and exit to monitor the flow of vehicles,' he said.

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