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.