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Cause for concern exists on Ocean Moon mackerel

The local Department of Health has yet to issue an official alert regarding the purchase and/or consumption of Ocean Moon brand canned mackerel that has been under the spotlight in the independent state of Samoa after the Ministry of Health there issued a public notice/warning about the fish product.


Responding to Samoa News inquiries yesterday morning, DOH Chief Compliance Officer Marion Fitisemanu said their office has yet to issue any kind of statement regarding the product in question, as they have not received any official information from the appropriate officials in Apia, or even the local government about the matter.


He said their office is very open about information-sharing with Samoa's Ministry of Health and as of yesterday, there had been no official communication between the two agencies about the Ocean Moon canned fish.


"Once we get any indication from the Samoa government about the situation, we will definitely start looking into it and the general public will be kept well informed," Fitisemanu said.


According to news from Apia, laboratory tests already conducted on Ocean Moon canned mackerel indicated that the product was "found to be unfit for human consumption."


The Samoa Observer reports that the tests relate to batch numbers 3502/01032 301, bearing a production date of September 13, 2012.


And while the advisory is in place, the Samoa government has yet to issue an official recall or ban on the sale of the canned mackerel. The Ocean Moon brand of tinned fish made headlines in Samoa two weeks ago when a consumer opened a can he bought and found a worm inside. Samoa's Principal Environmental Health Officer Seve Sinei Fili told Samoa media representatives that the consumer personally delivered the open container to their office to show them what he found.


Fili said they took a sample of the product to the Scientific Research of Samoa (SROS) where it was discovered that the canned mackerel was "highly contaminated." The results of the lab tests prompted Samoa officials to work during the weekend on a publicity campaign to get the word out quickly through radio, newspaper, and television announcements.


Fili told the Samoa Observer they are still looking for the Ocean Moon supplier and will be making contact with Samoa's Customs Division to find out who imported the product on to Samoa soil.


Nobody really knows for sure where the product is manufactured and/or produced. Attempts to conduct an online search for the company using its name does not turn up any hits at all. According to news reports from Samoa, although there is no recall or ban on the tinned fish, some stores have already pulled the product off their shelves following complaints from customers.


Some reports have indicated that the Ocean Moon brand is being distributed in Samoa by Asian importers.


The advisory is cause for great concern for residents of both Samoas as canned mackerel is usually purchased in bulk during times of faalavelaves and consumed on a regular basis in the majority of households, especially by elderly folks.