‘Bread with Sand’ is Suitable for Human Consumption, say Las Tunas Authorities in Cuba

The wheat that arrived this month in Santiago de Cuba from Russia “has a high level of impurities”

“It feels like I’m chewing on ground glass,” is one of the consumers’ comments/ Facebook/Yandy Mesa Figueredo

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 May 2024 — “It feels like I’m chewing ground glass,” “you can build a house with this,” “it’s sandy”… This is how hundreds of angry commentators describe the bread sold these days in Las Tunas’ rationed market. The widespread annoyance over the poor quality of the product has forced the local authorities to give an answer: the flour has “a high level of impurities” but is suitable for human consumption, they say.

“Does the bread from the bakery in Las Tunas have sand?” the local newspaper Periódico 26 inquired on its social media platforms on Saturday.
Several readers had sent their complaints to the official publication, which contacted the Food Industry’s management in the province due to the pressure. The officials’ response points to the low standards of the imported raw material.

“This May, a shipment of wheat from Russia arrived in the port of Santiago, it has a high level of impurities,” the management said.

“Does the bread from the state-owned bakery in Las Tunas have sand?” the local newspaper Periódico 26 inquired on its social media platforms on Saturday

“The technological characteristics” of the Cuban milling industry do not allow the total elimination of this residue that ends up, significantly, in the bread that the ’Tuneros’ [people from Las Tunas] put in their mouths.

“When you chew, you feel a grainy, sandy sensation,” they said in their statement to Periódico 26, although they added that “the flour is being systematically monitored in the mill’s laboratories in Santiago de Cuba; and laboratory tests in Las Tunas’ soil corroborated that it is suitable for human consumption.”

The officials’ words seem to have added yeast to the customers’ dissatisfaction, who do not conceive that a food with such poor quality is marketed. This is made with wheat from Russia “collected on the ground, a waste from the industry destined for animals,” concludes an outraged user who identifies himself as Camilo Agramonte. “It is totally disrespectful, collecting garbage from other countries and distributing it to the Cuban people,” he said to drive home his point.

Along the same lines, there are angry messages from other consumers who have already tried the product.”It is quite unpleasant to eat that bread,” says María Mercedes Peña, who recommends sending the product “to the tourist resorts” to see if the customers in those hotels want to eat the food with a texture that children reject and adults consume because “there is nothing else.”

Other Internet users describe the glossary of problems that the province is going through, such as the long blackouts, the lack of fuel that severely hampers the transport of people and goods, and “now this, bread is no longer bread,” summarizes one of those affected. “It’s better if they don’t sell anything because that bread is bad, it’s humiliating to the people.”

“It is totally disrespectful, collecting garbage from other countries and distributing it to the Cuban people,” he said.

According to Miguel Perez, this happens “because that flour is given away or was bought at animal feed prices. In sum, for us, pigs, anything is good,” an idea that is repeated throughout all the opinions that the text has generated, illustrated with an image of some buns that “do not resemble at all” the product causing the controversy, denounce the Internet users.

Neither the administrators of Periódico 26’s social media nor the managers of the Food Industry have confronted the barrage of criticism. In less than 20 hours, the publication has more than a hundred comments, none of them in support of or with any sign of understanding the sector’s authorities.

The problem seems to have no solution in the short term. The situation of the mills in Cuba is extremely precarious, according to the authorities. Last April they estimated that six million dollars were needed to maintain them. But only 23% of that amount has been secured in the last five years.

Yanet Lomba Estupiñán, Cuban Milling Company’s technical director, said on national television that the technology used is mostly European, without specifying the country – which could be Russia – and that its exploitation is already more than 20 years old. The machinery’s old age is compounded by a lack of funding, resulting in only 700 tons a day being processed, when its actual capacity is 1,000 tons.

Translated by LAR


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.