UAE tightens controls on strawberry imports from Egypt
Staff Writer |
As a result of the U.S. health scare that saw 119 people fall ill from the hepatitis A virus, which has been linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt, the UAE has tightened-up on imports of the fruits.
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The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said it had instructed food control authorities in each of the seven emirates “to tighten control procedures on frozen strawberries imported from Egypt in order to avoid the entry of any contaminated products that pose a risk to the consumer in the country”.
An official statement issued on Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that 119 people had hepatitis A. The illness had been reported from eight US states. Several US government agencies plan to work together to investigate the outbreak.
The ministry said that the US authorities are still coordinating with Egyptian officials to validate the results and that there was no additional information indicating the existence of additional cases of hepatitis A, or any information about the existence of other American food outlets that used strawberries contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
The ministry on Saturday said it has taken precautionary steps. “Specialised authorities have begun conducting urgent tests, surveys and studies on a variety of vegetables and fruit products from different countries,” it said.
The tests will look for chemical contaminants, heavy metals, and microbes in contaminated water that may have been used in some imported foods.
The ministry is also in touch with international bodies, including the FDA and Egyptian authorities, to confirm the safety of food products entering UAE.
The UAE ministry added that there is constant coordination with competent authorities in the country to ensure the safety of all imported and traded food products.
Meanwhile, a laboratory in Saudi Arabia has conducted tests on Egyptian frozen strawberries confirming their safety for consumption. They say the tests negate news circulating on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberry products and their link to the Hepatitis A outbreak.
The ministry urged the public to refrain from posting or circulating any news on social media platforms without contacting the concerned authorities to verify and validate the credibility of that information before posting. ■