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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Samoa Health Officials Mull Alleged Slugs In Canned Food
Family reportedly rushed to hospital ‘in distress’

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Feb. 14, 2013) – No formal complaint has reached Samoa’s Ministry of Health of slugs found in a can of sardines.

So they haven’t investigated the matter, said assistance chief executive officer, Seve Sinei Fili of Health Prevention and Environment Division.

One of his staff members did tell him of a "rumour" about slugs found in a can of sardines when it was opened.

But under the Ministry of Health procedures, an investigation is not begun under those circumstances.

"We need evidence such as the patch number on the can," said Seve.

All cans of sardines each have a patch number.

"We need the exact number of the can in which the slugs were allegedly found."

The woman who claimed to have found the slugs took her complaint to the media not to Ministry of Health, said Seve.

The woman said on TVOne News that a can of Sea Boat sardines she’s bought contained two slugs when it was opened.

On Wednesday, Member of Parliament, Levaopolo Talatonu, accused the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) for their silence in the slugs-in-the-sardines complaint.

And also over an incident (he explained) of a family of five who were taken to hospital last Friday unwell after a meal of Sea Boat sardines.

The MP runs a taxi stand at Vaitele Fou and said one of his drivers drove the distressed family to hospital.

But Seve said today no report of any incidence of food poisoning from the same brand of sardines has reached Ministry of Health.

Their division is the first to be notified of any incident of food poisoning recorded, for investigation, said Seve.

He said Ministry of Health has the authority to remove any suspect product from shop shelves after the completion of an investigation.

With regards the Sea Boat cans of sardines, Seve suggested Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL), should review the Fair Trading Act, especially the labeling section of it.

Because, Seve pointed out, the name of the manufacturer is not stated on the label.

"We have no authority over products brought into the country but once they are on sale, we have the right to remove any contaminated items," he said.

"Printing all details of a product on the label is important and if that is not satisfied, then the product should not be allowed in," he told Talamua.

Now with a second allegation against the same brand of sardines, Seve said his division will look into the matter.

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