The attention of the Nigerian populace has been drawn to the circulation of a contaminated frozen mixed vegetables (Pinguin Brand), which was shipped into the country from Europe, and regulatory agencies have warned against the consumption, as it can lead to a bacterial infection called Listeriosis.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s directorate of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) disclosed through a press statement that it received an alert from the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) on the outbreak of Listeriosis in some parts of Europe.
Listeriosis is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes, and it can cause severe illness, including severe sepsis, meningitis, or encephalitis, sometimes resulting in lifelong harm and even death. Those at risk of severe illness are the elderly, unborn babies, newborns and those who are immune-compromised. In pregnant women, it may cause stillbirth or spontaneous abortion, and preterm birth is common.
Speaking on the development, the Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, expressed her deep concern when she got the information that the contaminated product has been shipped into the country. She immediately gave a directive for a nation-wide surveillance.
It was stated that NAFDAC’s FSAN directorate went into action and confirmed that some of the implicated products actually arrived Nigeria. “Teams dispatched to the field found large quantities of the implicated products and placed them on HOLD. Placing on HOLD means the item cannot be distributed or sold”.
To further arrest the situation, Prof. Adeyeye said the agency newly created First Responders Team (FRT), which comprised staff from FSAN, Investigations & Enforcement, and Pharmacovigilance/Post marketing directorates, and they carried out the nationwide investigations in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
According to the release:”NAFDAC recovered a total of 3,300kg of the implicated product, Pinguin Brand of mixed vegetables, which have been isolated by the agency for destruction. Therefore, health risks to the Nigerian public have been mitigated. Further surveillance is on-going nationwide”.
As a precautionary measure, the agency has advised the public to return all such frozen vegetables (Pinguin Brand) manufactured between 13 August 2016 and 20 June 2018 to the nearest NAFDAC office.
Reports from the international scene corroborated it that the outbreak of Listeriosis in some parts of Europe was linked to frozen sweetcorn and other frozen mixed vegetables. Listeria monocytogenes, the causative agent of listeriosis can be found in many foods. Examples include smoked fish; meats; cheeses (especially soft cheeses) and raw vegetables. Consumption of contaminated food or feed is the main route of transmission to humans and animals. Infection that can lead to death may also occur through contact with infected animals or people.
While it was reported that the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed has issued an alert on a multi-country foodborne outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in Europe, list of affected countries of origin are Hungary and other European countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands.