The Vietnam Food Administration has ordered a recall of Granny Smith and Gala apples imported from the United States after they were linked with listeriosis that killed three people and hospitalized many others in the US.
The agency said in a statement Tuesday that it has ordered all importers to recall the products.
It is monitoring food poisoning cases to identify possible Listeria monocytogenes infection for timely treatment.
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause illness. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle ache, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
The VFA said it was informed by the International Food Safety Authorities Network about an international recall of US apple products over listeria concern.
According to the notice, on January 6 Bidart Bros. announced a recall of all Granny Smith and Gala apples shipped from the company’s Shafter, California, packing facility in 2014.
Three other companies later announced the recall of caramel apples over the concern, including Happy Apple Company of Washington and Missouri, California Snack Foods of El Monte, California, and Merb’s Candies of St. Louis, Missouri.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the products were exported to Vietnam, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the UAE.
Tran Van Chuc, a spokesman for Lotte Mart Vietnam, said the supermarket chain sells Granny Smith and Gala apples imported from the US, but not from the producers listed by VFA.
“Lotte Mart is checking information about [apple] suppliers and latest documents on food safety,” the Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online quoted Chuc as saying.
FDA, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US state and local authorities are investigating a listeriosis outbreak linked to the products.
According to the CDC, as of January 9, 32 people have been infected with Listeria monocytogenes in 11 states, with three people dying.
The CDC reported that 25 of the 28 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples, including Happy Apple, Carnival, and Merb’s Candies.
However, the CDC said the investigation is ongoing and more brands may be identified.