THE Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) and Ministry of Health (MoH) for the time being have imposed a ban on the import and sale of Granny Smith and Gala apples as well as caramelised apple products from the United States and Canada.
The ministries issued a joint press statement yesterday after tests by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) discovered a ‘listeria monocytogenes’ bacterial contamination.
Listoria monocytogenes is a type of bacterium that contaminates food and causes the infection, Listeriosis. Products contaminated by the bacteria may not show any signs of deterioration (ie physical or smell).
Listeriosis symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, muscle cramps and nausea. Those at high risk include pregnant women, the elderly and those with weak immune systems. Anyone with the above-mentioned symptoms is advised to seek urgent medical attention.
Following the recall, Granny Smith and Gala apples are to be removed from sale and handed over to the Biosecurity Division, MIPR. Caramelised apple products are to be handed over to the Quality Control and Food Safety Division, Health Services Department or Health Offices in the respective districts for disposal.
The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources is now monitoring apple products brought into the country originating from the United States and Canada to prevent their importation and sale. The Ministry of Health continuously conducts checks on food products imported into the country and will be inspecting supermarkets and businesses to ensure caramelised apple products are not on sale.
Samples of Granny Smith and Gala apples found in the country will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The steps are being undertaken as a precautionary measure to ensure that food products in the country are safe to be consumed.
Under Chapter 9, Subsection (1) sub-paragraph (i) of the Public Health Act (Food) (Cap 182), those who prepare, sell or import the product can face an imprisonment of five years, a fine or both, according to the MoH.
For further enquiries, members of the public can contact the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, MIPR via phone at 2388000 or the Biosecurity Division of the MIPR at 2388000 or the Quality Control and Food Safety Division, Health Services Department, MoH at 2331100.