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.


MFDA warns of contaminated IVs imported from India

The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) has issued a statement warning all pharmacies and healthcare centres to stop usage and trade of certain Intravenous (IV) bags imported from India because of potential contamination.

MFDA issued an pharmaceutical alert informing that MFDA officials have discovered some black matter inside the IV bags manufactured by an Indian company named ‘Baxter ‘. The MFDA said that the black matter was discovered inside two batches of IV bags imported from the company.

The batch numbers of the two batches that foreign matters discovered were also given by the MFDA. The batch numbers were 10101192 and 10101199 of ‘Ringer lactate’ IV bags.

Maldives Food and Drug Authority said that IV bags have to be packed under certain safety conditions and the discovery of such foreign matters inside the IV bags imported from Baxter laboratories makes the quality of the product questionable.

The MFDA has not identified the matter discovered inside the IV bags.

According to MFDA, healthcare centres and pharmacies have now started removing the IV bags from sale and also warned that the use of contaminated intravenous bags could cause serious health problems.

Director General of Maldives Food and Drug Authority, Shareef Adam today told Minivan News that the authority had now informed all of the health centres, hospitals and pharmacies to remove the IV bags and not to use it.

Shareefa said that the MFDA had not received any information that anyone had used them.


MFDA shuts down Billabong International School’s canteen

The Maldives Food and Drugs Authority (MFDA) has shutdown Billabong International High School’s canteen after the authority’s inspectors determined that it did not meet hygiene regulations.

Media Coordinator of the MFDA Jameela Adam said the authority would not close an eatery if the condition of the place was “not that poor.’”

“Our first priority is to suggest the improvement of the hygiene condition without forcing them to shut down their business,’’ said Jameela. ‘’But there is this certain criteria that all food outlets are required to have, which is the minimum standard. If any food outlet’s condition is poorer than those standards, we ask them to close the place immediately.’’

The MFDA has ceased providing reasons for the closures after complaints from outlet owners. Prior to that details for closures were disclosed – in one instance, a teashop was shut after inspectors discovered a live goat in the toilet.

‘’I can confirm that the hygiene condition of Billabong’s canteen was very poor,’’ she said. ‘’We took pictures and showed them what we found, and they also agreed that they had to correct those issues.’’

‘’Issues such as finding live animals, cockroaches, house flies and other foreign materials inside the food outlets are normally the major issues,’’ she said.

Jameela also noted that food inspectors had observed that a lot of expatriate food outlets in Hulhumale’ had been operating without the authorisation of the MFDA.

‘’We have closed many expat food outlets in Hulhumale’ for operating without MFDA permission,’’ she said.

She also said it was not the aim of the MFDA to shut down food outlets.

‘’Our goal is to ensure that safe food provided to customers in all food outlets,’’ she added.

Recently, famous restaurants such as West Park, Raaveriya and Alfresco Café were closed by the MFDA. Most reopened after addressing the authority’s complaints.


MFDA shuts down Café Alfresco and Blue Cappuccino

The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) has shut down another famous eatery in Male’, Café Alfresco in the State Trading Organisation (STO) building, after the authority found the café’s hygiene conditions did not meet the MFDA’s regulation.

The Blue Cappuccino restaurant in Maaveyo Magu was also closed by the MFDA in its ongoing food inspections program.

‘’Alfresco has unfortunately been closed for the time being after an inspection by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA),’’ Alfresco said in a statement on its website. ‘’We will hopefully be reopening shortly after we set the café’s facilities to fully comply with the MFDA’s standards.’’

‘’We apologise deeply to all our customers and assure complete adherence to MFDA regulations and standards in the future. We take full responsibility for this unfortunate incident and are more than willing to extend our support and cooperation to MFDA.’’

No details of the issues with the restaurants were provided by the MFDA as it has decided not to reveal such details following complaints from the owners of the closed food outlets.

‘’We decided not to reveal the details following complaints we received from the places,’’ said Jameela Mohamed, Media Coordinator of MFDA. ‘’We will issue a press release regarding the matter later today.’’

Café Alfresco was not the first famous food outlet to be suddenly closed by the MFDA. Famous restaurants such as West Park and Raaveriya was also closed by the MFDA during the inspections program.

Well known teashops such as Market Hotel, Faseyha Point and Malaafai 2 were also closed by the MFDA after it found the hygiene conditions did not meet MFDA regulations.

Live goats, houseflies, lizards and cats were discovered in the kitchens and stores of some of the closed restaurants and cafés.

The MFDA said so far 113 venues were checked and 12 places closed due to poor hygiene.

Meanwhile, some of the closed restaurants and teashops have been reopened after correcting the issues faced by the MFDA.


Tea shop closed by MFDA after live goat found in toilet

The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) has shut down a number of well-known Male’ restaurants and tea shops for hygiene breaches.

One famous tea shop on Majeedhee Magu, ‘Faseyha Point’, was closed after inspectors found a live goat tied up inside the teashop’s toilet.

MFDA said the tea shop’s hygiene condition was very poor.

Well known restaurants West Park and Raaveriya in Maafannu have also been closed in the MFDA’s hygiene crackdown, after both failed to meet the authority’s standards.

Media Coordinator of MFDA Jameela Mohamed told Minivan News that the authority shut down West Park because cats were roaming around in the service area.

‘’The restaurant’s kitchen door is always open and cats will enter the kitchen,’’ she said.

Jameela said the Raaveriya restaurant had house flies in the kitchen and lizards in their storeroom.

‘’So far we have checked 82 places and eight have been shutdown,’’ Jameela said.

Both Raaveriya Restaurant and West Park are often used as caters for celebrating wedding parties, birthdays and other such events.

Manager of West Park, Abdulla Gadhir, told newspaper Haveeru that cats do not enter the kitchen area of the restaurant.

He told the paper that there were two cats that lived in the fishing area right next to the restaurant.

Manager of Raaveriya, Ahmed Shareef told the paper that the restaurant sprayed insecticide weekly to terminate houseflies and other insects.

Director General of MFDA Shareefa Adam recently told Minivan News that any premises that were shut down could reapply to open again once they had corrected issues raised with their business.

Shareefa said the MFDA were using “basic” minimum hygiene standards such as cleanliness and preventing foreign materials from getting into food when inspecting the food outlets.