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Contaminated Food Products: Recurrent Phenomenon, Health Hazards Risk

The alert raised by the Minister of Trade on the existence of contaminated frozen corn and vegetables reportedly from Hungary comes barely months after a similar alert on chocolate, milk...

The national community is once again face- toface with another food contamination scare few months after similar ones early this year. The Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Atangana Mbarga in a communique issued recently, has warned the national community on the contaminated frozen corn and vegetables reportedly produced in Hungary. The alert on the contamination of these foodstuff with Listeria Monocytogenes bacteria was given by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This phenomenon has been recurrent across the globe and Cameroon being a major importer, is not spared. After the cholate bars and confectionary products marketed under the American company name Mars, Celebrations, Mliky Way, Dove, Bounty, Skittles and Balisto trademarks, then came baby powder milk from French diary company, Lactalis and now frozen corn and vegetables with brand name Freshona produced in Hungary. These products were withdrawn and are being withdrawn from the market for contamination. The frequent contamination according to health experts is due to lack of health and safety measures by manufacturers. Human error is also blamed for the recurrent contamination along processing course. This is why the French diary giant, Lactalis promised to strengthen health and safety plan after the baby milk and cereals were contaminated by salmonella bacteria. Some 12 million boxes of the milk were withdrawn from the market in 83 countries including Cameroon. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the frozen corn and vegetables with brand name Freshona produced by a Hungarian company Greenyard are contaminated with listeria monocytogenes bacteria and causes the deadly listeriosis infectious disease. Listeria monocytogenes are widely distributed in nature. They can be found in soil, water, vegetation and the faeces of some animals and can contaminate foods, WHO says stating that the case of the frozen corn and vegetables might have been contaminated by soil. Food Poison Journal however states that the same strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This suggests that the strains have persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out. Cameroon is now on red alert as officials of the Ministry of Trade have begun seizing stocks of the contaminated corn and vegetables from shelves in Douala. The massive importation of these products into Cameroon is largely due to the inability of the country to produce especially cereals in large quantities to meet industrial needs. Corn production in Cameroon for example is far below national demand. Corn production in Cameroon concordant sources say staggers around 2.1 million tons, far below demand which Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates at 3 million tons.

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