BUYER, BEWARE!

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THE tiny holes that sometimes appear on the vegetables we purchase may seem insignificant to some people, like an unsuspecting customer who purchased potatoes from a grocery stall on the Bourda Green one night. 
In a haste to make her purchases and get back into her car because of parking difficulties, that customer was not aware there were tiny holes on some of the potatoes; until she got home and inspected her purchase prior to cooking.
She decided to cut into the vegetables in order to remove the pierced portions, but soon found that what appeared to be a tiny hole on the surface had in fact pierced deep down into the vegetables. Disappointed, she wrapped the potatoes into a Ziploc bag and placed them into her refrigerator with the intention of letting the vendor know what she had been sold.
The following morning, before even removing the bag from the refrigerator, she had positively made up her mind not to take them to the seller, but to throw them into the garbage, even though she would still let the vendor know what she had discovered, and would caution the vendor to ensure the goods she sells are wholesome and in good condition.
But when she took the Ziploc bag out of the refrigerator, the customer was shocked to find that whatever had been injected into the potatoes (possibly by roaches) had spread and practically taken over both vegetables, causing them to become dishevelled and discoloured dark brown.
Recognising at that moment that there was more to the problem ‘than met the eye’, the perturbed customer realized the danger to which she would have exposed her household had she cooked the potatoes, which initially did not look the way they were now looking.
The woman shared this experience with the Guyana Chronicle, and we photographed the unwholesome vegetables and visited the vendor’s stall. The vendor initially, attempted to deny that she had sold the customer the potatoes, but was stumped in her tracks when this newspaper noticed and quickly brought to her attention that, included in the stocks displayed for sale right before her eyes, was a potato not pierced by roaches, but which had been badly scratched and eaten by rodents.
The vendor apologized, and offered the customer fresh and untouched potatoes.

Consumers, beware
Consumers are advised to be extremely careful, especially when making purchases at nights, when the market place might not be properly illuminated. It is important that customers take time to examine the items they had purchased, particularly when shopping confectionery and snack foods for their children, or items that cannot be washed before being used. These include: packaged foods, such as corn meal and other porridge stuff; sugar and salt, and powdered milk.
Unless you examine the items thoroughly, you may not recognize that they had probably been pierced by roaches, mice, or some other vermin.
Other reports have been received from persons driving through Bourda Green, east along Robb Street. Motorists claim they often have the experience of either being overcharged for items, or given short weight, simply because the sellers realize they are in a line of slowly moving traffic, and they are shopping through their car windows. This renders it difficult for the shoppers to stop long enough, or even get out of the motor vehicles, to demand that they get their correct weights or measurements.

Life threatening
More importantly, consumers need to be aware of the dangers to which roaches and rodents can expose the unsuspecting public. The following extract on the health risks posed by cockroaches is taken from HubPages:
Some cockroaches – such as the American cockroach — may come into contact with human faeces in sewers, and with the faeces of pets. If they then walk over human food, they can contaminate it with bacteria, including the species of Salmonella and Shigella that cause food poisoning. In addition, roaches deposit their saliva and faeces in our food. German cockroaches are also believed to transmit bacteria and viruses, including organisms that cause hepatitis, typhoid fever, dysentery, and gastrointestinal disorders.
As cockroaches move, they leave a trail of faeces which contains chemicals that communicate messages to other cockroaches, such as indicating the route that the cockroach is taking to find food or water. These trails may appear as dark stains or black specks. Cockroaches also release smelly secretions that can affect the flavour of foods, and fill the air with an unpleasant odour when a large number of cockroaches are present.

Cockroach faeces, saliva, secretions and bits of their bodies, like the body coverings they shed as they grow or when they molt, and empty egg capsules, can cause allergies and asthma in humans.

Cockroaches and Health
Dr. Jorge Parada of the National Pest Management Association (USA), in his work on “The Truth about Cockroaches’, reveals some startling truths:
“Cockroaches can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces, including pathogens that are potentially dangerous to humans. Cockroaches have been implicated in the spread of 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella species; six parasitic worms, and more than seven other types of human pathogens.
E. coli and Salmonella are classic causes of food poisoning, or gastroenteritis. Common symptoms include belly pain; severe stomach cramps and tenderness; diarrhoea, which can sometimes be bloody; nausea, and vomiting. Some people can experience severe diarrhoea, which will cause dehydration and may require hospitalization. In rare cases, the bacteria can spread to the blood stream and cause life-threatening infections.
People can mitigate cockroach problems and protect their health through barrier exclusion and cleanliness. Barrier exclusion involves preventing cockroaches from entering the home through places such as small cracks in the walls and spaces near electric sockets, and up through drain traps. Having a clean and sanitary home will make it less inviting to cockroaches.

How to keep cockroaches at bay
Dr. Parada advises on five things to do to protect your home and family:
1. Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and free of clutter. Clean dishes, crumbs and spills right away.
2. Store food in airtight containers, and always avoid leaving food out (including pet food!).
3. Seal cracks and gaps in walls, floors and openings around or inside cabinets. Condo- and apartment-dwellers should also seal gaps around plumbing, wall outlets, and switch plates.
4. Run water periodically in spare bathrooms and little used sinks.
5. Scan children’s backpacks when they return home, as well as grocery items before storing them.