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Vendors, wholesalers defy corned beef ban

Jamaica Gleaner / In spite of the Government’s immediate ban on corned beef imported from Brazil, some vendors and wholesalers are standing in defiance, pointing out that they need to earn a living, and that not selling the popular commodity would put a significant dent in their livelihood.

Especially throughout the downtown Kingston market district, not even the serious health concerns that led to the ban deterred the selling of the product.

“Me know you nah go eat it, enuh, but me still a sell you, enuh, because a money me a defend anyway,” one downtown vendor told a member of the Gleaner investigative team, who took to the streets to find out if the Government’s ban on corned beef was being adhered to.

On Monday evening, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries ordered an immediate ban on the importation of corned beef from Brazil – where 99.5 per cent of the local product comes from. The public was also urged not to consume any. This comes amid reports of several major Brazilian meat processors being under investigation for “selling rotten beef and poultry” for years.

The vendor said that her decision to ignore the ban was based squarely on economics, and that her four children depend on her taking home enough money to send them to school.

“You see what a gwaan wid dem tax ting deh. Me can hardly afford fi buy dem from di wholesale in di first place, so me willing to sell off di dozen to whoever want fi buy,” another vendor, who gave her name only as Jay, said, sitting in front of a stack of corned beef.

STILL SELLING, STILL SELLING It was a similar experience at a number of wholesales that The Gleaner visited.

At one wholesale on East Queen Street in downtown Kingston, at first the Chinese owner appeared not to understand what was being asking for, but with a quick glance over her shoulder, she went searching in a box on the ground and came up with a can of Grace corned beef.

“Did you know this item is banned?” the reporter asked.

“Still selling can beef. Still selling,” she replied.

Satisfied she was aware of the ban, the team left for another Chinese-owned wholesale located on West Street in the heart of the market district and found that there, too, corned beef was still being sold.

Overall, the team was able to purchase corned beef at several locations across Kingston.

Compliance was, however, being observed at several supermarkets in the Cross Roads and Half-Way Tree areas. When we visited, the products were being pulled from the shelves or notices were placed in front of them, advising shoppers of the ban.

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