Food Law News - EU - 1998

April 1998: HEALTH - Cholera in East Africa

MAFF/DoH Bulletin, April 1998

Cholera in East Africa

Following the recent outbreak of cholera in East Africa, an EU-wide monitoring exercise of fruit and vegetables imported from the affected areas has begun. Commission Decision 98/116/EC, of 4 February 1998, specifies action to be taken by Member States when consignments of certain fruit and vegetables consigned from or originating in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are received at ports.

The Decision requires Member States to sample at least 10 per cent of consignments, ie one in ten consignments, of fruit or vegetables, or their products. It specifies which products are to be sampled and those which are not affected. Samples will be microbiologically tested to ensure that products do not present a risk to human health with respect to Vibrio cholerae.

Food coming by sea from East Africa is unlikely to be a problem as the journey time is longer than 10 days - microbiological evidence suggests that it is possible for the cholera organism to survive on the surface of fruit and vegetables for up to 10 days. Port Health Officers at airports are, therefore, likely to be carrying out the majority of any sampling of food consignments.

The Commission will review this Decision before 30 September 1998 or sooner if Vibrio cholerae is found to be present in any of the consignments sampled.

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