Enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea are no longer in circulation at markets after a recall was issued by the Agriculture Ministry in May following reports that they contained harmful bacteria.
The ministry recalled the mushrooms exported by South Korean mushroom exporter Green Co. Ltd, an official from the ministry’s Food Security Agency (BKP), Agung Hendriadi, said.
"Officials from the regional branches of the Central Food Safety Competency Authority [OKKPP] have checked enoki mushrooms sold at markets in several regions such as Jambi, West Kalimantan, Ternate, and Jakarta and they found no enoki mushrooms from South Korea, specifically from Green Co," he said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Between April 21 and May 26, the agency had taken samples of enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea after the International Food Safety Authority Network (Infosan), a food security network under the United Nations and the World Health Organization, notified them that people in the United States, Canada and Australia had contracted listeriosis after consuming enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea.
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The BKP found that some samples imported by the company had been contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes listeriosis. The foodborne illness can cause serious problems for vulnerable groups such as newborns, toddlers, pregnant women and the elderly.
The BKP then told PT Green Box Fresh Vegetables, a local company that imported enoki mushrooms from Green Co Ltd., to cease all distribution and destroy the remaining mushrooms weighing more than 8.1 tons in Bekasi, West Java, between May 22 and June 19.
Agung said the agency had also notified the South Korean Embassy in Indonesia so it could carry out corrective action.
He explained that it was safe for the public to consume enoki mushrooms as long as they had not been imported from South Korea.
"Listeria monocytogenes contaminates enoki mushrooms through water, land and while they grow. The factors are quite localized and specific to certain regions so it is very unlikely that enoki mushrooms from other countries also contain the bacteria," he said.
However, Agung suggested cooking enoki mushrooms before consumption as a preventative measure.
"Listeria monocytogenes will die when heated to a temperature of more than 75 degrees Celsius for five minutes,” he added.
Agung also suggested not storing enoki mushrooms with other foods to prevent cross-contamination.