A Viral Video Shows Supermarket Staff Pricking Holes in Plastic Sugar Bags

Pin-pricking is apparently a common practice.

There’s a video circulating taken by an irate customer of some store merchandisers of a popular supermarket chain.

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The video shows the merchandisers using a pin to poke holes in the plastic bags of sugar and salt packs, and even other powdered products like detergents and flour, to let the air out so they can properly stack the bags flatly and so it doesn’t fall off the shelf. The pin pricks are so small that it lets the air out but not the product.

Apparently this has been “normal practice” for many groceries or supermarkets, especially when precious shelf space needs to be fully stacked to maximize efficient displays and prevent bags from falling to the ground and spilling the product.

But under the “new normal,” many are wondering, is this practice still safe?

We asked Steven Cua, the president of the supermarket association PAGASA (Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association). 


“In response to the many people who sent us the viral video, below is PAGASA's reply: This is a regular practice by merchandisers to let the air out of sugar and salt bags (to avoid bulging). This is so that bags of sugar/salt can be displayed properly without slipping out of shelves, falling to the ground or customers accidentally puncturing a hole when these items are mixed in cart w/products w/sharp edges and creating a mess on their grocery wagons and the selling area.

“Supermarket members of our association have been forewarned to use critical thinking in solving display problems and not introduce health hazards in the process of doing so,” Cua added. “They have been asked to refrain from doing this. We thank those who have brought this to our attention.”

Cua, who owns the popular Welcome Supermart, said this was the same statement PAGASA forwarded to Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castillo, who handles consumer protection for the agency.

Pin-pricking is also common practice among other industries like hardware stores and home improvement chains that use plastic bags and sacks as packages, although these do not have any health consequences since items like skim coats, tile grouts, and other forms of powdered adhesive products are not consumed internally.

Cua also pointed out that the supermarket in the video is not a PAGASA member and assured the public that his own supermarket does not practice this.

Some people claim that poking tiny holes in food packs can present some risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus so PAGASA’s stand is not to tolerate this kind of practice, he added.

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“The new normal requires a bit of review and critical thinking and we’re very thankful this matter was brought to our attention,” Cua said.

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