Vietnam tests all apples imported from US over listeria concern

By Phan Hau, Thanh Nien News

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Apples imported from the US at a market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Khanh Long Apples imported from the US at a market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Khanh Long

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Vietnamese authorities are testing all apples imported from the US, after several products linked to listeriosis killed three people and sickened many others. 
“We are taking samples of all apples imported from the US to test for the dangerous bacteria,” said Phung Huu Hao, deputy director of the national food safety control agency NAFIQAD. 
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 32 people in the US have been infected with strains of listeria monocytogenes. 
Symptoms of listeriosis, or listoria infection, include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle ache, severe headache and neck stiffness. 
Earlier, the bacteria had been found in apples in the US, leading to the recall of Bidart Bros' Granny Smith and Gala apples.
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.
Preliminary inspection found that none of these companies had their apples sold in Vietnam. 
Hao said he has instructed his agency’s affiliates to step up monitoring at border gates and watch out for all apples imported from the US.
Vietnam imports fresh apples from the US, but it does not import caramel apples, he said.
According to the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department, the county imported more than 12,000 tons of apples from the US last year.
Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the department, said US apples are brought into Vietnam via Hanoi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City.
“We are coordinating with relevant agencies to inspect US apples kept in stock by local companies,” he added. 

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