Having lived here in America for the last six years, I have seen how the law is always strictly enforced. That’s why I was terribly disappointed when I was tricked into buying bamboo shoots that looked fresh.
My son Percy and I were in the Madison Heights area last Sept. 26 when we went to Kim Nhung Super Food, a popular Asian store at 30925 Dequindre Road, to buy some vegetables, vinegar, soy sauce and meat.
At the vegetable section, after I picked up long string beans, I spotted bamboo strips placed in small plastic bags. (In the receipt, it is called “bamboo Thailand tip.”) These appeared brown and very fresh. I picked one bag of it and paid $1.86 for it.
I have not eaten this kind of vegetable for a long time, and I crave boiled pork with bamboo shoots, a delicacy in Ilocos Norte, my home province.
When we arrived home, Percy put the goods we had bought from Kim Nhung in the refrigerator. Entering the kitchen, I smelled something terribly bad. “Ano yong mabaho? (What is that emitting foul odor?)” I asked. “Yong labong na binili mo (It is the bamboo shoots you bought),” Percy replied.
He brought it out and handed it to me. I smelled it, and the stench immediately assailed my nostril. I washed the bamboo shoots with salt and water in an attempt to remove the offensive odor. I washed it at least three times, but the odor was still strong. I decided to boil it, hoping that the stench would evaporate. But the bad smell didn’t go away.
Under the circumstances, there was nothing I could do but to throw it away. I suspected that if we cook and eat it, it would cause food poisoning.
The stench spread up to the second floor. It was so bad that it lingered for two or three days.
I suspected that chemicals were used to make it look fresh. I remember that in the Philippines, chemicals such as formalin were used by unscrupulous traders to make fish products appear fresh.
In the Kim Nhung receipt, it was stated that consumers can return products they have bought, but these should not have been touched or opened. The store would refund the cost of the returned goods.
It is impractical for me to go back to Kim Nhung in Madison Heights to return the bamboo shoots and ask for a refund of $1.86. We live in Belleville, and the cost of gasoline I would use in going to Madison Heights and back to our home is about $7.
But the cost in this case is immaterial. What matters is the principle behind it.
I later realized that I was tricked into buying it due to its fresh look. I could not believe I was deceived because in the first place, this is America where the law is enforced strictly. If it happens in the Philippines, I would put the blame on corrupt government market inspectors.
Aside from this case, there are at least two other deceptive marketing practices I encountered recently. One is about chicken liver I often buy at Asian stores. Although it is labeled “chicken liver,” what is in the pack is not all chicken liver as some one-third of it is chicken heart. I throw away the chicken heart because these are tough compared to the liver.
There is also this case of leafy vegetables placed in plastic bags which are sealed with scotch tape. It is so tightly sealed that it is next to impossible to inspect what is inside it. One time I bought one bag of Chinese “kangkong,” and I was disappointed to find out that almost half of it were trash because these had already wilted and yellowish.
These cases make me wonder if some personnel of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection are assiduously doing their job.
Are they regularly visiting Asian stores to inspect goods being sold there?