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07/10/18: AVA suspends Malaysian farm behind recalled Pasar and Iceberg lettuce

iceberg-lettuceAgri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has suspended the import of fresh produce from the Malaysian farm that produced iceberg lettuce with high levels of pesticide.

The authorities issued a recall of the lettuce sold at FairPrice and Sheng Siong supermarkets on Thursday (Oct 4).

In an updated statement on Saturday, AVA said that it has also notified the Malaysian authorities that it had detected higher-than-permitted levels of Fipronil in the product.

Fipronil is a wide-spectrum pesticide designed to kill or manage a wide variety of pests.

AVA added that it has requested for investigations to be conducted against the implicated farm, which has not been named.

The lettuce is sold under the brand name Pasar with supplier code 40 at FairPrice.

In its statement, AVA said that it adopts a science-based risk analysis framework for food safety.

This means that AVA will assess the food safety risk, such as the hazards known to be associated with certain food, before including it in its routine inspection and surveillance programme.

The process follows food safety standards and requirements, and it is a targeted approach taken by most food safety agencies worldwide, AVA said.

“Singapore imports over 90 percent of our food and it is not practical for AVA to inspect and test all food in the market,” it added.

Vegetables imported into Singapore are subjected to post-import inspection and sampling for food safety.

The parameters include the presence of pesticide residues, microbial contamination, and other possible non-permitted chemicals.

Food products that fail AVA’s inspection and laboratory tests will not be allowed for sale, the authority said.

In addition, vegetables that are frequently detected with unsatisfactory levels of pesticide residues are categorized as high-risk products.

This category of products is subjected to a “hold-and-test” inspection regime, where only consignments that pass AVA’s laboratory testing will be released for sale.

AVA said that it will take enforcement action against importers who bring in consignments of vegetables that are found to have an unsafe level of pesticide residues.

The affected consignments will be confiscated and destroyed.

Importers may also be fined, suspended or prosecuted, AVA added.

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