The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has barred the entry of Gala and Granny Smith apples from the United States into Malaysia.
According to Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, this is because the apples are suspected to be contaminated with listeriosis bacteria. He said the restriction was imposed by the Department of Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services (Maqis) after the Ministry received a notice on the contamination two days ago.
“We received a US Food and Drug Administration notice informing us about the contamination and it is understood that it has caused three deaths in the US and Canada,” said Ismail Sabri. He added that his ministry had no jurisdiction to recall apples that were already in Malaysia as this involved food nutrition, which is regulated by the Health Ministry.
Listeriosis can be potentially fatal. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, nausea, and a stiff neck.
The issue related to the ban on the apples had spread via the social media for the past few days. It had been reported that the bacteria was detected at an apple processing centre in Bidart Bros near Bakersfield, California involving apples coated with caramel.