National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s (NAFDAC) directorate of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) responded to an alert from International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) on outbreak of Listeriosis in some parts of Europe. INFOSAN received the information from European Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed (RASFF). INFOSAN is a global network of national food safety authorities managed jointly by FAO and WHO whose primary responsibility is to assist member states in managing food safety risks and ensuring rapid sharing of information during food safety emergencies to stop the spread from one country to another.
The Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye was informed on July 11, 2018 by FSAN that the RASFF had confirmed that the compromised food (frozen mixed vegetables) was shipped to Nigeria. She immediately gave a directive for a nation-wide surveillance. 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.
The outbreak of Listeriosis in Europe was linked to frozen corn 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.
NAFDAC’s next step response started with the Agency’s newly created First Responders Team (FRT). The Team (composed of staff from FSAN, Investigations & Enforcement, and Pharmacovigilance/Post marketing directorates) carried out the nationwide investigations in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. 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 member of INFOSAN, NAFDAC has the obligation to respond promptly to INFOSAN alerts and give a feedback on actions taken. In line with its obligation, NAFDAC has sent required updates on her activities to INFOSAN, with regard to this outbreak.
As a precautionary measure the public is advised to return all such frozen vegetables (PINGUIN BRAND) manufactured between 13th August 2016 and 20th June 2018 to the nearest NAFDAC office.
Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye