BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 9, 2015
Chief Agricultural Officer, Roberto Harrison, told Amandala today that the Agriculture Department has been confiscating supplies of fake red potatoes from major vendors across the country, and these potatoes, imported from Mexico but dyed to look like local red potatoes, have been found in all locations except the northern districts.
Harrison said that the dyed potatoes may have been in those districts at smaller mom and pop establishments which they would not have visited, and so they may still be on the market in those districts.
Last week, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture issued a warning, advising consumers not to purchase the brightly-colored potatoes, since they are not genuine red potatoes and they may pose a health risk.
There had been complaints coming out of Cayo of people getting sick after having eaten those potatoes. However, health authorities have been unable to establish what had been used to recolor the potatoes, and the health risks that may be associated with that substance.
We understand that up to Saturday, February 7, 2015, authorities continued combing major vendors countrywide for the potatoes, and Harrison said that the intent is to destroy the confiscated potatoes, some of which were found at the Michael Finnegan Market (formerly the Queen’s Square Market) in Belize City.
Harrison said that it has been established that the potatoes were imported from Mexico; however, the Mexicans have not reported any problems with the alteration of their potatoes, and it appears that the coloring of the potatoes was done in Belize.
It is not legal to import red potatoes, which Belize produces.
Meanwhile, consumers are encouraged to purchase the genuine red potatoes grown in Belize, which is earthy red and not hot pink.