Microbiological hazards associated with food products imported from the Asia-Pacific region based on analysis of the rapid alert system for food and feed (RASFF) notifications
Dada, AC and Somorin, YM and Ateba, CN and Onyeaka, H and Anyogu, A and Kasan, NA and Odeyemi, OA, Microbiological hazards associated with food products imported from the Asia-Pacific region based on analysis of the rapid alert system for food and feed (RASFF) notifications, Food Control, 129 Article 108243. ISSN 0956-7135 (2021) [Refereed Article]
The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feeds (RASFF) is a monitoring and notification tool and food safety-related database developed by the European Commission. This study evaluated the microbiological safety of foods originating from the Asia-Pacific region in the past two decades (2000–2020) by analysing incidences and trends of notifications and alerts on the RASFF database. The highest number of notifications were for foods imported from India and Thailand as foods imported from these two countries constituted more than half (54%) of the notifications recorded on the RASFF database for the entire Asia-Pacific region from 2000 to 2020, compared to ANZ (Australia and New Zealand), which had very low notifications (1.2% = 23/1873). Among the 2121 notifications of pathogenic microorganisms, consisting of 14 genera, Salmonella was the most predominant as approximately 7 out of every 10 pathogens isolated from foods imported from the Asia-Pacific Region in the past two decades (74%, 1560/2121) were Salmonella species. More than 95% of pathogen species notifications for fruits and vegetables imported from India and Bangladesh were associated with betel leaves. Among the nuts, nut products and seeds, sesame seeds were the main food item contaminated by Salmonella, and these accounted for 87% of total Salmonella notifications. Across the food categories, there was a statistically significant reduction in the number of notifications associated with seafoods over the years (r = −0.73, p = 0.0001). Although a statistically significant increase in notifications for fruits and vegetables (r = 0.66, p = 0.008) was recorded between 2000 and 2014, more recent years (2015–2020) have been associated with reducing trends in the number of notifications associated with this food type (r = −0.85, p = 0.03). Results indicate that imported foods may be potential vehicles for the transmission of clinically relevant microorganisms. Studies of this nature can potentially encourage countries to implement policies that improve export quality.