Brands of dairy products that have been recalled in other countries over contamination concerns in certain batches were seen to have also been available in Brunei up until yesterday.
According to media reports published over the weekend, New Zealand's main dairy exporter, Fonterra, has found a strain of bacteria causing botulism in some of its products, including infant formula and sports drinks on Saturday.
The result of the discovery is a global recall of up to 1,000 tonnes of dairy products across seven countries, which include China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
Fonterra products such as Anmum and Anlene being sold in some of the country's major supermarkets were indicated to have come from Malaysia, as stated on their labels.
When inquired, supervising staff of the supermarkets said that they had not heard any word of recall from their respective headquarters in Brunei.
The Ministry of Health, when contacted by The Brunei Times, stated that alerts from neighbouring countries will be looked into and products, if affected, will be recalled after their own investigation has been conducted.
According to Bernama, some products made by Danone Dumex (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd have also been recalled as a safety precaution due to contamination concerns. These products are Dumex Dupro, Mamex Cherish, Mamex Explore and Bebelac.
Dumex Dupro was seen to be on retail at a major supermarket in Kiulap, though appeared to be no longer available on the shelves a few hours after The Brunei Times had made inquiries to its supervising staff. According to Bernama, Danone Dumex has instigated a precautionary recall of the following products in Malaysia.
The products being recalled are Dumex Dupro Step 2 with batch numbers 04263B2, 04273B2, 05033B2, 05093B2, 05153B2, 05223B2, 05233B2, 05143T1, 05153B1, 04263B1, 04273B1, 04273B2, 05033B1, 05033B2, 05093B1, 05093B2, 05153B1, 05153B2, 05223B1, 05223B2 and 05233B1; Mamex Cherish Step 1 with batch numbers 06103T1, 06213B1, 06213B2, 06053R1, 06123R1, 06093T1 and 06213B1; Mamex Explore Step 2 with batch numbers 06093T1, 06123R1, 06213B1 and 06213B2; and Bebelac Step 2 with batch numbers 05023R1 and 05033R1.
Fonterra stated in a press release that it identified a potential quality problem in March when a product tested positive for the bacteria clostridium.
Many strains of the bacteria are harmless, the company said, and product samples were put through intensive testing throughout the following months. It said that on July 31 it discovered the presence of a strain of the bacteria that can cause botulism.
According to the World Health Organisation, botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium, clostridium botulinum. Botulism toxin can be inhaled or ingested via contaminated food or water.
It said that all forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating contaminated food.
All people are susceptible to foodborne toxins, but food poisoning can be prevented by properly processing and preserving food.