Alert on German spicesBy: ADAM HARTMAN
BATCHES of “whole allspice” mix (used in sauces and stews) imported from Germany to Namibia had to be recalled after an alert from the Health and Consumers Directorate in the European Commission that it was contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which cause food poisoning.
The alert, which was issued via the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in May and June, stated that the products had reached the market and presented “a serious health risk to consumers”.
The information on distribution was not yet available and the brand name was withheld. Products have been or are in the process of being withdrawn, according to the alert.
Besides Namibia, the products were also distributed to Austria, the Netherlands and South Africa.
The Namibian spoke to some of the clients, which include smaller general dealers in German imported products, as well as larger supermarkets.
A general dealer said they were requested to destroy the contaminated batches, whose serial numbers were provided.
Some local importers who serve as wholesalers informed their clients to return the relevant batches. They were assured that the German supplier would replace the contaminated batches.
There are importers in Swakopmund and Windhoek, but there may also be others elsewhere in Namibia, The Namibian understands.
Local municipalities assisted in collecting and destroying the contaminated products.
According to Clive Laurence of the Swakopmund municipal health department, the products were collected and marked “condemned” before being burnt. He said about five kilograms of the products were destroyed in Swakopmund.
According to him, the EU alert stated that the brand was Mara, produced in Germany.
“If there is any suspicion of such contamination, we err on the side of safety. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we destroyed it,” he said.
Mara is not a very popular German food brand in Namibia. In fact, a supermarket wholesaler discontinued the importing of the brand because it was “not selling so well”.
A source at the Namibian Standards Institute (NSI) said he was aware of the alert because it was issued via the NSI.
“We immediately evaluated the matter and contacted the clients to inform them of the alert, and how they should address it. In a case where there are pathogenic micro-organisms such as salmonella and bacillus, such batches have to be destroyed,” the source said.
He said the NSI would soon establish an imports inspection protocol under which imported products will be tested locally before distribution to various local importers.
“My advice is that when a consumer wants to buy the product, they need to go to the sales representative and just make sure about the specific batch numbers to ensure that they do not buy a batch identified by the RASFF, that may have gone through undetected. We are confident though that the issue has been cleared even though the alert is still on the RASFF database,” he said.