BAHFSA Announces Recall of Sweet Potatoes

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The Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) wishes to advise that the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), which manages the Produce Exchange in Nassau, voluntarily recalled whole, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) due to potential infestation by the sweet potato weevil (Cylas formicarius) and other crop pathogens. The sweet potatoes under investigation were transported from the North Andros Packing House on the island of Andros to the Produce Exchange where it was offered for sale from June 24th through July 15th, 2022. BAIC, in its early investigations identified 13 potential farms on North Andros that supplied the Produce Exchange with sweet potato. However, BAIC, the local farmers on North Andros, The Department of Agriculture, other interested parties and BAHFSA are collaborating in this ongoing investigation to determine the source(s) of the infestation.

The sweet potato weevil is the most serious pest of sweet potatoes, globally. Infested sweet potatoes are riddled with dark-colored cavities or tunnels packed with fecal material from larvae and become unfit for consumption. In addition, the damage caused by tunneling permits entry of soil borne pathogens, which may lead to illness in humans who consume these damaged potatoes. The farmers affected and persons who plan on growing sweet potatoes are asked to follow best management practices of this common pest to control and prevent infestation and to seek guidance by the local competent authorities.

BAHFSA further advises that restaurants, retailers, food service providers and consumers, do not eat, sell or serve the affected potatoes supplied by the Produce Exchange on the dates mentioned. Suppliers and distributors that offered these potatoes for sale are asked to isolate and/or destroy the affected potatoes and clean and sanitize all surface and storage areas they may have come in contact with. Where there is a potential for cross contamination or mixing with other potatoes with the affected produce, the entire batch must be
discarded.

To date, there have been no illnesses reported by the Ministry of Health Surveillance Unit. However, if anyone believes they may have consumed the affected product and have become ill, they are asked to contact the nearest health professional or clinic.

The investigation is in its early stages and it is unclear if other products may have been affected. BAHFSA will update the public as information becomes available.