By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. April 18, 2014: While many Jamaican nationals may look forward with longing to ackee and saltfish this Easter weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending seizure or import refusal of canned, frozen and other ackee products.
The ackee fruit which is harvested from the ackee tree (Blighia sapida), is native to West Africa, but is also found in Central and South America, many Caribbean countries including Jamaica, and southern Florida.
It contains the toxin hypoglycin A, which drops to negligible levels in the edible portion of the fruit when it is fully ripe,, making them safe to consume . However, the rind and seeds still have high levels of hypoglycin A when the fruit is fully ripe and should not be consumed.
When the product is improperly processed, concentrations can rise above 100 parts per million (ppm) and pose a health risk. The ingestion of hypoglycin A may result in no symptoms or symptoms that range from some vomiting to severe vomiting with profound hypoglycemia, drowsiness, muscular exhaustion, prostration, and possibly coma and death.
In issuing final guidance on enforcement criteria for Ackee, the FDA said its district offices may detain, without physical examination, all ackee products offered for import.
The exception will be for those firms that are identified on a “Green List,” which according to the FDA have demonstrated that they have food safety controls in place to ensure that only properly ripened ackees, without seeds or rind, are included in finished products.
They are Fruit Processors Ltd. of Belize, Antillean Canning S.A. of Haiti and from Jamaica: Ashman Food Products Ltd., Canco Limited, Central Food Packers Ltd., Double Deuce Jamaica Ltd., Exotic Products Jamaica Limited, Island Packers, Southern Fruits & Food Processors Ltd., Stanmark Processors Company Limited, Tijule Company Ltd. and West Best Foods Limited.
Canned, frozen and other ackee products are marketed in the U.S., largely to people from Caribbean cultures, and most of the products are imported from Jamaica, Belize and Haiti.
In recent years, there has been interest by a processor in Florida to market ackee products in interstate commerce.
Persons wishing to comment on the final Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) ruling may submit electronic or written comments to the FDA at 12420 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, MD 20857.