Expired canned tuna products from GenSan sold in Manila market

But Philbest Canning Corp, maker of Diana canned tuna brand and owned by fishing tycoon Rodrigo Rivera Jr., clarified they made it clear to the buyer that the items were already expired and only fit for animal consumption.

The selling of expired Diana canned tuna was exposed by television station GMA-7 in its late Saturday night edition of "Imbestigador" hosted by Mike Enriquez.

Sheryl Manahan, Philbest sales analyst, told the news program they have disposed of bad orders of Diana tuna which were supposedly not to be sold in the market as they are only good for animals.

Manahan said some 1,000 cases of expired Diana tuna were taken from their warehouse here and shipped to Manila by a buyer identified as Roberto Daza.

She said that before they sold the expired products for animal consumption, they removed the labels but that the buyer apparently replaced them with an identical marking.

She added the firm and the buyer signed an agreement that the expired  products would only be fed to animals and not sold as food items for human consumption.

Mercy Angeles, one of those arrested in Blumentritt for selling the expired canned tuna, said she did not know the condition of the products.

Of the 1,000 cases disposed by Philbest, only about 100 cases were seized by the National Bureau of Investigation, Imbestigador reported.

The arrested vendors could be charged with violation of Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, which imposes a penalty of five years imprisonment or a fine ranging from P5,000 to P10,000.

Aside from Diana tuna, Philbest also produces the Dolly brand tuna.

MindaNews today called up Ritche Rivera, executive vice president and chief operating officer of RD Group of Companies, to get further details or the side of the company but he did not answer his mobile telephone.

Philbest is a subsidiary of RD Group of Companies, which is also into banking, pawnshop, real estate and aquaculture venture, among others.

In 2003, President Gloria M. Arroyo cited Philbest as "Top Sectoral Export Performer Award for Marine Products" during the Export Development Council Awards.

Philbest is one of the six tuna canneries based in this city, the undisputed "Tuna Capital of the Philippines. "

The firm was owned by the RFM Group and was acquired by the Riveras in 2001.