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Buying Safer meat/poultry in the Philippines

With Thanksgiving upon us, we American expats often have "extended family-like eating events" where we go out a bit more with meal preparations to bring some of those memorable past fall events from yesteryear, that remain embedded in our memories. 

For various reasons I am already a bit hypersensitive to food/meat quality and find my options are even less here in the PI.  This time last year I dropped into a local Sav-more store to check on a small turkey.  They had two (not frozen solid but with severe freezer burns) and when I checked the date codes, one was dated 2007 and the other was 2010.  When I questioned the meat department manager on why this store was selling out-dated meat, his response was that since it is imported from USA, it is expensive and they don't mind if it is 5-8 years old since it is frozen. 

Fast-forward to turkey day 2016 - As selection of the best raw materials remains a concern for many expats here in the PI, I wanted to both share some recent experiences and opinions on the topic of where we go and what we buy to prepare a proper meal for our households.  Yesterday, as I prepared for an SnR run I received the news that a local family member did not get her contract renewed (she was fired) for not wanting to climb upon wet cardboard boxes in a "Sav-(less)" freezer.  It seems this store's freezer gets switched off overnight and each morning the already old and stressed freezer "spits out" water with only cool air for many hours. 

This cycle has resulted in many wet cardboard boxes, standing water on the floor and the strong smell of decaying flesh in the walk-in freezer.  Since this relative did not want to climb wet boxes filled with partially thawed meat, the contract was not renewed.  Does anyone think this practice is isolated to one store in Tagaytay City?

It is my opinion that this is a very common practice!  Therefore, I will only buy the Magnolia brand vacuum packed whole chickens (I do not let the store open or cut my chicken).  I only but US, NZ or Ozzie beef and US or Norwegian Salmon.  Now my phil family members completely understand my strict requirements on store name, brand & meat selections.

Although I am not a Pork eater, I remain concerned with all people that are buying ANY meat (beef, pork, seafood and or poultry) from such places that use extremely poor/ill-advised raw meat preservation measures to save a few pesos. 

Please share any similar experiences and or concerns?

PS - SnR had small Butterballs from under P900 and large California Toms for about P2100 today.

What I don't understand is Philippines has the capability to breed and raise turkeys, chickens and cattle without resorting to imported meats.
I know for one an old friend of mine has a small farm in Tanay, Rizal...where he raised thousands of white feathered turkeys specifically for meat.  When I visited once, he had one prepared and cooked.  It was excellent...even better than the ones sold at grocery stores in the States.   Likewise, cattle seems abundant particularly in cattle-raising regions like Masbate, Mindanao.   What happened?   They stopped raising them?   Up until recently just a few years ago I can still find abundant, freshly butchered ones in the open markets (palengke).  I suppose it's much cheaper and convenient to simply import them dressed and frozen no matter how long they sit in the freezer before they get to the consumer.  Calif-Native's depiction of freezing methods there is deplorable!   Where are the food health inspectors?   The new president promised to set things right and proper in the country....is it happening?   I'd like to hear similar experiences from others..expats and local folks.

Fortunately my wife and I have not experienced this problem, yet, though we also do not shop at Save-less.  My wife says she has never liked the store even while living in Imus, so we have not been subjected to their policies and practices with regard to the condition of their frozen foods.
  How sad that a business would put a small profit ahead of the health of their customers and their families. What they are doing is reprehensible at best and it would be nice to see someone held accountable, though I doubt that will happen.

We purchase frozen and fresh meats from both groceries and from the market with my wife being the very picky buyer.
We have found on occasion fresh meats at both outlets not to be as fresh as the seller advertised by simply having it displayed for sale. If there is any question, we move on and purchase something else.

With regard to the quality of the cuts of meat, we try not to compare to what we previously purchased in the U.S.  as we no longer live there making the comparison a point of contention and nothing more.
We have a neighbor who raises a few head of cattle near us and the feed consists of grasses only, no supplements, corn or otherwise which make the cattle much leaner and the butchered cuts reflect that diet.
Tagaytay's Mahogany market has a large area selling freshly butchered beef, something we have not seen in most other markets.  The fact that this market exists and thrives in the Tagaytay area no doubt speaks somewhat to the standard of living and income of the people in the area. 

We do make purchases from the S&R Club store in Santa Rosa and have found the choices, while a little more expensive, to be fresh, not dated and good quality. Any purchase we make we always check the date. As Calif-native stated, finding outdated items on the shelf in many stores is not uncommon or in some cases the expiration date is only a few days away. 
Not many years ago stores like the S&R club store with its imported goods could not be supported by the Philippine economy and the fact that it exists and is apparently thriving as more stores are opening attests to the improvement in the economy and the disposable income now available for some including imported frozen cuts of meat and large frozen turkeys as well as other higher priced imported items that the stores stock on their shelves.

My wife stated that a neighbor who raised Turkey's when she was younger used the birds and their eggs  for family consumption only, as far as she knows. 
At that time, the birds were not sold commercially simply because the cost of feed was prohibitive and the birds free ranged for feed, adding that most Filipinos at that time could not afford the cost of a turkey compared to a chicken and refrigerators were few and far between. Most simply raised a few chickens of their own.
At this point in time I doubt that the average working class Filipino would spend their hard earned cash on a feed fed commercially raised Turkey when purchases of poultry, fish and rice can most likely be made for the cost of one Turkey.

During the Holidays my wife and I purchase frozen hams for a few friends and neighbors who consider the gift an extravagance that they themselves would not normally purchase making a frozen turkey purchase highly unlikely.

I will go back to the Philippines in a few months. I am in Vietnam now, and in the sausage business. I know that meat cannot be frozen indefinitely. If vacuum packed and frozen fresh, over the months, although safe for consumption, the taste will go away. If the temperature is maintained at minus 18 Celsius (-1 F) all the time, the maximum time you could keep it frozen that way is 12 months. If I would have any doubt as for my safety, it goes to the trash, no even to a dog.

In my recent visit to the Philippines, a month ago, I went back to visit many old friends from the time I was living there. Every week they buy one pig at the market (sometime two), and they slaughter it at home. They keep what they need and sale the rest. They are always short of the demand… and make a little profit.

When I return I will have a freezer, and they agreed to slaughter a beef once a month, and a few more pigs (I will smoke the hams myself). And they have the space to raise chickens and turkeys. I promise to help with this.

This is how I see it. Simple and fun. Anyone can do this: get good fresh meat all the time, and help some families with their budget. That is my intention: to help some families make a better living… and at NO cost for me (maybe a little profit on the side), and enjoy life with more friends. Cheers.

I am always uncertain about the quality of meat in Phillipine Supermarkets. We prefer to buy from the local Market. Meat is freshly slautered (Sometimes still warm). The presentation looks unsanitry. But iff the Meat is washed well, and cooked thoroughly. It should be no problem. The same applys to Chicken. Much fresher than what we used to buy in German Supermarkets.
I cure and smoke my own Ham(Bacon), and together with an English Neighbour, have been raising Turkeys, for over a year.
Eggs can be a problem, especially if they have been left out in direct sunshine. I think the same can apply to fish, sold at the side of the road.

Just go to SM if you are that paranoid

even SM i found to sel meat that had been frozen several times and had a bad colored shine to it .i am quit familiar whit meat quality as we used to butcher our own meat in my country and i worked in a meat factory at times in vakation jobs .
so i looked around here in supermarkets and found that it is the safest to buy it at local markets were the meat is fresh slaughtered ,it is so fresh that before cutting it up i lay it in the freezer for a wile so it stiffens up ,we always buy large portions of meat and cut it up a home ,i supose not all of us know how to do thiss as it is more than just slising it ,wile cuting it it have to be cleaned up ,remove sinuw and vanes and the flies between the layers of muscle ,it also depend how it is cut ,a bad butcher can make the same steak chewy or tender just by cuting it the wrong or right way ,so for me it is easy .grinded meat i both only once ,than i booght a meatgrinder and do that myselfe to .
all our guests love our food ,maibe that's an indikator am doing it right or that we have very polite guests hahaha

greets Dirk

FCStraight :

What I don't understand is Philippines has the capability to breed and raise turkeys, chickens and cattle without resorting to imported meats.
I know for one an old friend of mine has a small farm in Tanay, Rizal...where he raised thousands of white feathered turkeys specifically for meat.  When I visited once, he had one prepared and cooked.  It was excellent...even better than the ones sold at grocery stores in the States.   Likewise, cattle seems abundant particularly in cattle-raising regions like Masbate, Mindanao.   What happened?   They stopped raising them?   Up until recently just a few years ago I can still find abundant, freshly butchered ones in the open markets (palengke).  I suppose it's much cheaper and convenient to simply import them dressed and frozen no matter how long they sit in the freezer before they get to the consumer.  Calif-Native's depiction of freezing methods there is deplorable!   Where are the food health inspectors?   The new president promised to set things right and proper in the country....is it happening?   I'd like to hear similar experiences from others..expats and local folks.

Hello, Sir

The cattle-raising didn't stop. Padre Garcia town in Batangas, is the cattle trading capital of the Philippines. Batangas area isn't only good for beaches but also for cattle or livestock business. We're currently planning to do research in that area for agribusiness. The Philippines terrain is definitely compatible for the livestock raising.

The local agribusinesses here in the Philippines are mostly aggrieved because many bigger companies/ cartels here have been doing unlawful activities. Say for example, huge cartels that are into importation will hoard some of their items, agricultural products during off season for harvest. When it's time for harvest, these cartels will release their hoarded stocks in the market which will trigger the local farmers to bring down their prices. Then these cartels will instead buy the local farmers' stocks and then sell it to the end-consumers market. This is quite an oppressive system that has been a practice for years and with lack of punishment in the past, they were able to master the system.

Sorry about the change of topic. Anyway, it is always best to buy fresh meat in the "palengke" (wet market) during early morning.

Thank you for the enlightening update on the big cartels' illegal activities.   Now there is a new, bold President who promised to deal and eliminate the three big sins...illegal drugs, corruption and criminality in the Philippines...is there now a difference that can be felt in the local agribusiness?   Are the cartels still operating their schemes with impunity?

For us, a visit to SM requires a four  Hour car journey, and a Six Hour Ferry Trip.
I think for a couple of Pork Chops, that is a bit exsessive.

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