JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): The Indonesian government has ordered importers to destroy enoki mushrooms obtained from South Korea as they may contain bacteria harmful to humans.
The Agriculture Ministry’s Food Security Agency (BKP) head Agung Hendriadi said the government had not recorded any human infections from the imported mushrooms.
"The steps taken by the Agriculture Ministry are precautionary," Agung said in a statement published on Thursday. "We urge the public to be careful and thorough in buying food, especially fresh food from plants. Select foods that have been registered [on the government's fresh produce (PSAT) list]."
The BKP said the International Food Safety Authority Network (Infosan), a food security network under the United Nations and the World Health Organization, notified Indonesia on April 15 that citizens of the United States, Canada and Australia had contracted listeriosis after consuming enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea.
The mushrooms were found to contain Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes listeriosis. The infection can cause severe disease and death in vulnerable groups such as newborns, toddlers, pregnant women and the elderly, in addition to increasing the risk of miscarriage.
The bacteria are resistant to cold temperatures and may be able to infect other foods stored in the same container.
The BKP, through Central Food Safety Competency Authority (OKKPP) officials, extracted samples from enoki mushrooms between April 21 and May 26. Importers were told to stop distribution pending test results. The agency found that several enoki samples contained the bacteria.
The BKP then told PT Green Box Fresh Vegetables, which imported enoki from South Korean mushroom exporter Green Co Ltd., to cease all distribution and destroy the remaining enoki.
"Representatives from the company and the agency destroyed 1,633 cartons of enoki weighing more than 8.1 tons in Bekasi, West Java, between May 22 and June 19," Agung said.
Following the investigation, The BKP instructed regional branches of the OKKPP and the Agriculture Quarantine Agency to increase their supervision of the distribution of enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea.
The agency has also instructed affected businesses to return enoki mushrooms imported by Green Co Ltd. and sanitize and test other foods, particularly those kept in storage with the mushrooms.
Homegrown online grocery marketplace SayurBox suspended the sale of enoki mushrooms following a notification from the Agriculture Ministry urging the public not to consume them.
"If you want to keep eating [enoki], don't forget to cook them first and consult a doctor if you experience unusual symptoms," the company wrote on its Instagram account, @sayurbox, on Thursday. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
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