SINGAPORE: A parasitic worm contamination was found in a shipment of canned sardines confiscated last month at the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI), the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Service (Maqis) said on Thursday (25 Apr).

The sardines were imported from China and had been in a truck that came from Singapore on Mar 27. After the truck driver could not produce the proper import permits for the shipment of 16,320 kilos of canned sardines he was carrying, the shipment was confiscated by Maqis.

The seized consignment was worth RM 83,879.84 (S$23,856).

The driver’s statement was taken before he was released, the New Straits Times reported on Apr 2.

The Star said that because Maqis officers suspected that seized food was contaminated, samples of the sardines were sent for testing.

On Apr 25, Mr Edie Putra Md Yusof, the director of Maqis at Johor, said that the samples taken had shown the presence of the the parasitic worms Anisakis sp.

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“The items were seized and samples of the food were sent for laboratory testing. Following the seizure, the canned sardines were detected to contain the Anisakis sp parasitic worms during a laboratory analysis by the Chemistry Department on several samples.

Further checks by Johor Maqis enforcement officers confirmed that the remainder of the seized batches of the canned sardines were also contaminated,” he said.

Anisakiasis disease in humans is caused by Anisakis sp worms and occurs when people eat raw or undercooked seafood that has the worms, including fish. The parasitic worm attacks a person’s gastrointestinal system, including the stomach or intestines, and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Under Malaysian law, bringing in any plant, animal, carcass, fish, agricultural product, soil or microorganism with pests, diseases or contaminants is an offence and individuals who are convicted may face a maximum jail time of six years, a fine of not more than RM10,000 (S$2,848), or both.

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The quarantine agency underlined its commitment to enforcement actions at Malaysia’s entry points in order to make sure that the agricultural products are safe and in compliance with the country’s laws.

In Singapore last year, a woman found a live parasitic worm in a ready-to-eat sashimi rice bowl from Don Don Donki. The Singapore Food Agency commented on the incident, saying that “consumers who choose to eat ready-to-eat raw fish should be aware of the risks involved”.


Read also: After live parasitic worm found in raw fish by customer at Don Don Donki, SFA warns people ‘be aware of risks involved’