Food authority fears tainted apples in Maldives

The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) has announced that apples of the Granny Smith variety feared to have been tainted with listeria monocytogenes bacteria have been found in the Maldives.

A statement released this morning said, however, that the authority has so far been unable to determine whether the apples found have been supplied from the California-based Bidart Bros of Bakersfield, from which the tainted apples are believed to have originated.

“Although we have found Granny Smith apples from California, it does not necessarily mean they will be contain the bacteria. But until we confirm that the apples are safe, we recommend the public to not consume them,” said spokeswoman Sajidha said.

Bidart Bros issued a full recall the Gala and Granny Smith apples after the US Food and Drug Administration traced a listeria outbreak to the firm earlier this month.

“Consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples being recalled by Bidart Bros. These apples can be sold under the brand names ‘Big B’ and ‘Granny’s Best’, though, they could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all,” read a January 9 statement from the company.

The MFDA explained that microbiological tests are being conducted to determine whether the apples contain any traces of the bacteria and informed “all parties not to sell these types of apples until it is determined to be safe”.

“We took samples last night and tests will be carried out today. As this is a microbiological test, it will take at least 3 to 4 days for us to get the results,” said Sajidha.

She also explained that bacteria which causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stiffness of the neck and muscles – is especially dangerous to vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, cancer patients, children, and the elderly.

“The initial cases of listeria monocytogenes in America because of the apples resulted in fatalities,” Sajidha warned.

On Tuesday (January 27), the MFDA sent out a food alert warning consumers to exercise caution with regards to Gala and Granny smith type of apples imported from Bidart Bros.

Indonesia and Vietnam are reported to have halted apple imports from the company after International Food Safety Authorities Network issued an alert on January 17.


Particles found in Baxter International IV solutions: MFDA

A warning against using the use of intravenous solutions made by the US pharmaceutical company Baxter International has been issued by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) today (July 10), reports local media.

Particles inside IV bottles were found by the MFDA on three occasions, which could mean the standard of the IV solutions could be compromised and potentially harm patients, said the MFDA alert.

The MFDA has urged vigilance and that all IV solutions be returned to the authority. They are “looking into the matter” as well as inspecting the warehouses where the IV bottles are stored.


Parliament’s food found to contain high levels of histamine

Histamine levels in the chili fish served for parliament members last week were over eight times the normal amount, the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (FDA) have revealed.

The fish were served for breakfast before an MP, some parliament employees and military personnel were taken ill with food poisoning.

During the sub-general committee meeting probing the food poisoning, Director General of the FDA Shareefa Adam Manik explained that histamine is detected in rotten fish.

“Based on the information we have received, it looks like histamine poisoning. We think the fish is the contributor,” she said.

As of last night It has not yet been determined whether the market or the caterers were responsible for the rotten fish used in the dish, Shareefa said.

The histamine level recorded in the dish was measured at 1,774.8, whereas the normal amount should be under 200. Shareefa added: “we haven’t detected such a level of histamine in the recent past.”

FDA revealed that more tests still need to be done and the results would not be ready before Monday.

It was explained by FDA that histamine is a poison created within the fish tissue after it is caught. To avoid this, fish must be stored at a temperature of five degrees Celsius as anything higher can trigger the growth of micro organisms and lead to histamine in the fish.

Caterer South Beach’s Managing Director Mohamed Thaufeeg told Haveeru Online that the fish is bought from the market on a daily basis, sufficient for the meals catered to the parliament.

Thaufeeg added that no issues were noted with the fish from the local market yesterday, however he raised concern over the quality of fish sold in the market.

The police revealed that the complaint had been lodged with them as an “intentional” attempt to poison the MPs.

Inspector of Police Mohamed Dawood confirmed that no arrests had been made, but four parties have been questioned over the case.


Damaged and excess drug cargo seized

A half container of prescription drugs has been seized by local Customs authorities after the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) uncovered damage to products within the shipment, local media reports.

Excess levels of medication beyond those recorded on an invoice attached to the container were also seized from the shipment, which was imported to the country on November 2, 2010, according to Haveeru.

Customs officials quoted in the report said that it was to procedure to dispose of any damaged drugs being brought into the country.