DA heightens alert on contaminated apples

By on January 30, 2015


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MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has heightened its measures to prevent the entry of apples from the US that are contaminated with Listerosis bacteria after a shipment originating from an American company was recalled.

According to the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), all ports of entry in the country have already been alerted to closely monitor the possible entry of said products.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has earlier recalled the shipment of California apple packer Bidart Bros. to the Philippines after the US Food and Drugs Administration (USFDA) alerted the Philippine government that tests in the apple packing facility of the company confirmed it is contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

The USFDA said that exposure to the bacteria causes Listeriosis, a rare but serious illness that may cause death.

The bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms, diarrhea and meningitis among others.

BPI director Paz Benavidez II said that after an advisory from the DTI, her agency immediately alerted the country’s main ports, the Manila International Container Port and South Harbor, for strict monitoring on the entry of apple imports.

BPI’s port operations consist of inspection and taking of samples arriving in the country.

“Our office is verifying the issued Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Import Clearance if such importation is already in the country,” Benavidez said.

Benavidez, who also serve as the Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Regulations, nonetheless assured the public that the issuance of SPS Import Clearance for the importation of apples covered by the USFDA recall order is already on hold.

In the meantime, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala advised consumers that they should not be complacent even with the recall orders and the government’s strict monitoring.

“Despite all precautions, there is still a possibility that contaminated apples would be sneaked in and sold at much lower prices,” Alcala said.