KOTA BAHARU, Jan 20 – The importer of Granny Smith and Gala apples from Bidart Brothers, Bakersfield in California, USA is currently recalling all fruits from the local market, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya. Nevertheless, he said, the public need not have any fear in buying other types of apples sold in the market after the two types of apples were claimed to be tainted with ‘Listeria Monocytegenes’ bacteria.
“The company concerned is currently in the process of recalling both types of apples from throughout the country and if there are traders still selling them, do report to us,” he told reporters after launching a Post-Floods Blood and Organ Donation Programme at the Kota Baharu Polytechnic here today.
Dr Hilmi said both the health and agriculture and agro-based industry ministries were carrying out checks nationwide. Yesterday, the health ministry seized 19,960 Gala and Granny Smith apples imported from the US and worth RM82,000, in Kuching and Sibu, Sarawak following the ‘Listeria Monocytegenes’ bacteria scare.
Among the early symptoms of the food-borne illness are headache, vomiting, fever and stiffness in the neck. The public have been advised not to panic as only the Granny Smith and Gala apples are confirmed to be contaminated while the rest are safe to eat. In another development, Dr Hilmi said public awareness among Malaysians on the need to register as an organ donor was still poor, despite the current high demand for organs.
“Since its introduction in 1975, we have managed to enlist 500 donors while 18,322 organ recipients are on the waiting list,” he said, adding that the poor response was due to the many myths and misconceptions clouding organ donation. Meanwhile, he said that as of Jan 11, the National Blood Centre had despatched a total of 430 units of red blood cells and eight ‘apheresis’ platelets to Kelantan; 250 units of red blood cells and 60 ‘apheresis’ platelets to Terengganu; and, 200 units of red blood cells to Pahang.
“We need between 1,800 to 2,000 blood donors to meet the needs of patients nationwide,” he said. The three-day donation programme held at the Kota Baharu Polytechnic was expected to collect about 1,500 units of blood from students of the institution and other community colleges in Kelantan.