The instability in the hours of sale of bread is one of the most frequent dissatisfactions in the population. Photo: Jaliosky Ajete Rabeiro
"However it comes I have to buy it, it is the guarantee for my children to have breakfast; I can't give money for a bag." This is just one of the criteria you often hear in the bakery queue, and although quality has long been one of the most recurrent criticisms of our daily bread, the questions in recent months refer to organizational and consumer protection issues.
Why is it that some days the bread has more quality than others? If sometimes the process and the sale are delayed, and there are those who cannot arrive in time to buy, why not receive it twice the next day? Do I have to sign up for a list? Where does the remaining bread go? Are all hygiene standards for the processing and sale of the product complied with?
These are just some questions and disagreements that came to our newsroom and to which this press team went out to find their answers in some bakeries of the head municipality.
THE FACE OF BREAD
In front of us a loaf of bread. Its appearance is pale, ashy, dry and smells acidic. It is the product that a client, resident in the Villamil neighborhood, brought to the Guerrillero newsroom. It is the one that touched him for the supply book, the same one that was supposedly destined for his children's school snack.
María Lucila Orta Vilaú, a resident in that distribution, told us that the bakery has been closed for repair for years and that the place where it is currently sold, on Delicias Street, does not have adequate hygienic conditions.
For her part, Mireya Iglesias, an elderly neighbor of the place, expressed her concern about the transfer of the boxes back and forth without hygiene standards.
"You go to look for him at 10 in the morning or three in the afternoon and they say, 'He hasn't arrived.' She doesn't explain why they sometimes have to go more than twice in a day.
Another of the interviewees, who asked to be called María T., referred to the poor conditions of the bakery where production is currently made, El Tomeguín. She, like other customers, insisted that to give it to her children she heats it first and thus prevents them from getting sick.
"That place is depressing, I've even seen a dog with mange at the door of the bakery." On one occasion I went up for the Government with 12 loaves of bread in poor condition, because I considered it a lack of respect. That day my son, and of course others, left for school on an empty stomach," she said.
The poor quality, the delay in the repair of the original premises of the bakery and the irregularity in the schedule cause the discomfort and misinformation of consumers, who expressed that in one of the two sales shifts there is more disorganization, in the other it does not happen.
In conversation with Juan Víctor Hernández Campo, president of the popular council Capitán San Luis for two terms, and delegate for 12 years, he explained that they have to do with the quality of the service, from the popular control they exercise to make it work.
"Today the bakeries of the People's Council are in a deplorable constructive state and the quality of service they provide is not good either," he said.
He added that there are countless complaints regarding the time of entry of the bread, the quality, the transfer of the product, and why the repair of the Villamil bakery, stopped for more than three years, even when it was included in the plan of the economy of the municipality, is not finished.
The Villamil bakery has been waiting for more than three years for a repair. Photo: Jaliosky Ajete Rabeiro
"We have given him treatment with the director of the Basic Food Unit on repeated occasions and we have taken him to the meeting of the Popular Council, the answer is that 'there are no resources', 'we cannot', 'we have a brigade', but in the end the work is not concluded. We even feared that someone would get in and occupy the space, because the custody of the premises is poor. This is perhaps today the bakery most unprotected by the Food Company."
The president of the Popular Council explained how at the beginning of the Covid-19 they moved the bakery counter to the cafeteria of the Capitán San Luis stadium, but as a result of the National Series it had to be removed from there, so they managed the premises it occupies today, which is a butcher shop of the Commerce Company.
"The bread has an unstable schedule, it depends on transport, production, the unit that can produce it and so on, and in many cases it comes with poor quality. I have served voters with the acidic, rotten, fetid product, because they have taken the dough from one unit to the other to make it and it has fermented, and still they produce the bread."
VICTIMS OF MISINFORMATION AND OTHER PAIN
David Hernández lives almost two kilometers from the El Tomeguín bakery. In recent months there have been few occasions when he has bought bread in the morning. Many times he has to return at five in the afternoon and almost at eight at night he manages to acquire the product.
"They don't even put a sign to inform the schedules, so if for a personal reason you do not arrive on time in the afternoon, to be given it twice the next day you have to write down on a list. That bread that touched me, who takes it?"
David is 70 years old, he is one of the many who also does not understand the reason why one day the bread "is allowed to eat", and the next, the same comes acid as without the right grammage or without a pinch of fat.
This team arrived at the El Tomeguín bakery one of those days when, "fortunately", bread was sold in the morning. However, we were not lucky enough to find the administrator, who claimed over the phone that he was ill.
We witnessed a gloomy-looking enclosure, with poor lighting and hygiene and the appearance of total abandonment: the carts that move and support the trays, broken; The oven deteriorated, even, with the handle also broken.
Everything in the place suggests the lack of protection and neglect, in addition to not having the hygienic-sanitary conditions necessary for the preparation of food for such a large number of customers.
According to Miriam Vargas, economic of the entity, there work 23 workers and currently supply transportation to 13 warehouses, for which they must produce 11,400 units daily, while they make the sale at the counter of 3,620, corresponding to three of these establishments.
On the part of the young production manager, who avoided giving his name at all times, we learned that in recent months, products such as yeast and flour do not have the best quality, and that they often receive the assignment late in the day.
In this situation are the boxes in which the bread is transported to the cellars. Photo: Jaliosky Ajete Rabeiro
"There are many things here that harm us, besides the quality of the raw material. The oven and trolleys are in very poor condition. There is also the electricity consumption, already at 11 in the morning you have to remove the current, and from five to nine at night again.
"With the situation that exists in other bakeries right now, we are overloaded with production, because we have to tax many wineries, so the sale at the counter is harmed."
On the quality of the bread they make, he said that although they make a shine with oil, which sometimes is at dawn, at the time it is going to be sold there is no trace of that fat, given the terrible conditions that the establishment has and also of transportation.
TO THE SEED OF THE PROBLEM
"The quality of the bread is influenced by everything, from the raw material, the fermentation process, the conditions of the establishment, the control in the process, the packaging, the transportation, the hygiene ..., says Oviamna Martínez Barrera, director of the Provincial Company of the Food Industry in Pinar del Río.
"Today our stoves do not have the conditions for bread to ferment with water vapor, which is what gives it the right softness and texture. But if steps in the process are violated, such as packaging it hot causes the bread to reach the consumer acid. Human resources have a lot to do with that.
"In recent times the instability with the entry of flour into the province is what is damaging us the most in the preparation of bread from the family basket. We have had to resort to making arrangements with state companies such as Epicol, the Cuban Bread Company, and MSMEs that made loans to continue production," he says.
Despite the situation with raw materials, process violation also influences the quality of the final product. Photo: Jaliosky Ajete Rabeiro
He added that the raw material does not always have the appropriate quality, even recently they had to analyze in the laboratories one of the flours used because it did not have the required quality, and this also affects the final product.
In relation to the constructive state of these establishments, Martínez Barrera explains that in the province there are 72 bakeries, seven of them not working due to significant deterioration, intensified by the passage of Hurricane Ian.
"Of 21 in the head municipality, today there are six closed, including Provari, located on the Luis Lazo highway, one of the areas where there is more dissatisfaction with the bread of the family basket."
He said that all the bakeries in the municipality are overdrawn in their production load and that each one produces around 24,000 or 25,000 breads a day.
"There are delays in the service to the counter due to the arrival of yeast and other raw materials, also influence the breaks in the boilers of the ovens of some bakeries. We have taken alternatives such as setting up productions in the Biscuit Factory, for example. The Company at all times responds and follows up where there are complaints. There is a system of attention to the population."
He clarified that even when they are working, many are not in good condition, such as the "Capó", which has serious damage to the roof, and the "Carlos Manuel".
"Gradually we work in the facilities. Now there is a MSME repairing Briones Montoto's that was damaged by Ian and then by a tornado that ended up taking the roof away."
Likewise, they work on Santa Maria in San Luis. In Pinar del Río, after they conclude in Briones, they will be in charge of La Nueva, and later of Villamil.
As for transportation, the official said that they only have two insurance trucks, the rest of the lines are covered by rented private cars, because there is a deficit of battery and tires.
On hygiene, the director explained that it must be controlled first by the administrator, and that in each basic unit there is a Quality specialist who has to do the established controls.
"In the review of the quality of production, a verification system is maintained from the Company; But it must be in conjunction with the basic unit and in a systematic way, so that there really is a change. We have difficulties in this and we must be more rigorous. Soon the sanitary uniform that has also been deteriorated in recent times will be purchased.
"On the other hand, every time there is an act of violation of processes, of controls, even by complaints of the population, the corresponding disciplinary measures are applied, and in case of criminal acts the denunciations are made."
Being a recurring complaint of the population, he clarified that if the bread does not arrive at the established time, and the client could not acquire it, the next day it must be given without the need to write it down on a list.
Photo: Jaliosky Ajete Rabeiro
NO WARM CLOTHS
Bread is a very susceptible subject. Every day that the product comes out with poor quality or that it does not reach the users, it is a losing battle. Apart from the raw materials thrown away, and the human effort involved, some child, elderly or sick, just to mention the most vulnerable, is left without breakfast or snack.
The situations with raw materials, infrastructure and technology can affect the entire production process, but we insist that the human factor is decisive, and at that point the administrations of the entities, the municipal units and the province come to play their role.
Quality controls have to be systematic at all levels and even more hygiene inspections, both internal and external, and there enter the inspectors in charge of this activity at all instances. It only takes eyes to see.
The attention to workers in salary and other matters, as well as the conditions for their performance, are decisive in the motivation and love they put into what they do. Behind this work there is someone who waits with need and eagerness for our daily bread to arrive, "without pain".
(From Guerrilla Newspaper)