SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has suspended the import of fresh produce from the Malaysian farm where the iceberg lettuce found to contain high levels of pesticide originated from.
In response to queries by Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Oct 5), AVA said that it had notified the Malaysian authorities about the detection of the pesticide fipronil in the iceberg lettuce and asked for investigations to be conducted on the farm.
The iceberg lettuce were imported by Go Fresh Impex and were sold at NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong supermarket chains. The products have been removed from all outlets after a recall was issued by AVA.
Sheng Siong has since engaged a different supplier for its iceberg lettuce.
A spokesperson from NTUC FairPrice had said that a sample of the product was sent to AVA on Oct 2 for lab tests after checks from the supermarket chain's Food Safety and Quality Department revealed "whitish substance" on a batch of Pasar iceberg lettuce.
Customers who bought the iceberg lettuce from NTUC FairPrice between Sep 28 and Oct 4 can claim a full refund from any FairPrice store by Oct 11.
Those who bought from Sheng Siong may return the product with proof of purchase to any outlet for a full refund.
NOT PRACTICAL TO INSPECT ALL FOOD IN THE MARKET: AVA
As Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food, AVA said that it is not practical to inspect and test all food in the market.
"Vegetables are subjected to post-import inspection and sampling for food safety. Parameters include presence of pesticide residues, microbial contamination and other possible non-permitted chemicals. Food that fail our inspection and laboratory tests will not be allowed for sale.
"Vegetables frequently detected with unsatisfactory levels of pesticide residues are categorised as high-risk products and will be subjected to ‘hold-and-test' inspection regime," AVA said, adding that only consignments that pass laboratory testing will be allowed to be released for sale.
Importers who bring in consignments detected with unsafe levels of pesticide residues will face enforcement actions.
The consignments will be confiscated and destroyed, and importers may be fined, suspended or prosecuted.