SINGAPORE: The majority of Norwegian salmon in Singapore is safe to consume, industry players said on Thursday (Aug 1) following a contamination scare.
A recall was issued on Wednesday by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) for a batch of Atlantic salmon from Norway, after listeria monocytogenes bacteria was detected in a sample.
The affected batch #6751 from plant F430 was brought into Singapore by importer Yu Fish. The company’s supplier in Norway had informed them of the contamination, SFA said in a media release.
In response to queries by CNA, Yu Fish said it was notified of the contamination late on Tuesday evening. It then alerted channel buyers and initiated a product recall on Wednesday morning.
"From initial feedback and estimates, majority of the affected cargo is expected to be recalled and accounted for by Thursday," Yu Fish added.
The distributor said the affected lot represents about 0.5 per cent of the 117 metric tonnes of salmon exported from Norway to Singapore last week, based on data from the Norwegian Seafood Council.
"Coupled with an expected high recall rate, therefore, the majority of the Norwegian salmon in Singapore remains totally safe to consume," it added.
"LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC BATCH"
Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice said on Thursday it had completed a product recall of the affected batch.
"The entire batch was withdrawn before it was available for sale, with the exception of one store - FairPrice at Northpoint City," FairPrice said in a statement.
It added that customers who bought Atlantic salmon from Norway from the Northpoint City outlet on Tuesday may return it to the same store with their receipt for a full refund by Aug 15.
The Norwegian Seafood Council, in a statement on behalf of salmon exporters from the country, highlighted that the bacteria finding is "limited to a specific batch", which is "being handled according to standard procedures".
It added: "As the batch is identified and correcting measures are being carried out, the vast majority of fresh Norwegian Atlantic Salmon in the marketplace is not affected and should be considered perfectly safe to eat without cooking.
"However, as this incident is ongoing we urge all seafood stakeholders to check with their suppliers to make sure your entity is not affected by this situation."
The council also said that measures put in place by SFA and the value chain indicate a functioning food safety system.
BACTERIA "OCCASIONALLY APPEARS"
The seafood industry has long had to deal with the challenges posed by listeria bacteria.
"The bacteria occasionally appears on premises where food is processed, for example on equipment that is worn or difficult to keep clean," said Yu Fish.
Listeria monocytogenes may cause listeriosis, a bacterial infection with symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and diarrhoea.
The bacteria spreads by consumption of food, and cannot be passed from one person to another. It can be killed by thorough cooking.
Customers are also advised by SFA to observe proper hygiene and safe handling of food to reduce the risk of listeriosis. This includes washing of hands after handling raw food, and keeping raw and cooked food separate.