THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said white onions circulating in markets are likely to have been smuggled and pose a food safety risk, because it has issued no import permits for the commodity.

“There are no import permits for white onions. There should be no white onions. There are also no white onions in the cold storage,” Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Y. Evangelista told reporters on Thursday.

“If a product is smuggled, it did not go through food safety protocols. It is not safe for consumers. That’s where our regulatory body enters. We need to investigate and find out who the supplier is,” she added.

Earlier this week, the DA set a suggested retail price (SRP) of P170/kilogram for red onion sold in wet markets in the National Capital Region.

According to Ms. Evangelista, the DA will assist retailers in finding cheaper sources of onions to help them observe the SRP.

“We have found people still selling onions at a higher price but we understand that what they are selling is stock from a while ago, one week at the most. What we are doing is looking for a cheaper supplier so they can follow the SRP,” she said.

“We have to temper the prices of our commodities.  We want to help our retailers and consumers to find products at the right price,” she added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson