No need to panic over claims of infected dates

KUALA LUMPUR – May 19, 2017: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) has advised people not to worry over claims that dried dates imported from the Middle East are unsafe for consumption.

According to the group’s deputy president Mohd. Yusof Abdul Rahman, the dried dates in the local market have been repacked by Malaysian manufacturers, whose factories are certified by the health ministry and the agriculture and agro-based industry ministry. 

“We have yet to receive any complaint relating spoiled dried dates,” he said while commenting on several posts in cyberspace over the week, which claimed that imported dried dates were infected by bat-derived viruses or coronaviruses.

One of the posts, circulated via WhatsApp messenger, stated that date farms in the Middle East are currently infested with bats carrying an infection which may affect consumers.

It also claimed that Saudi Arabia’s health ministry had issued an alert to Muslims to wash the dates before consuming them. Malaysians are expected to consume a huge volume of dates for the fasting month which starts a week from now.

A check by The Mole failed to find any official report on the bat infestation in the Middle East this year. 

A Facebook post by Habibah Badar Bajrai suggested that date producers in the Middle East are handling the process of drying the fruits in an unhygienic manner.

That post and others similar to it had caused quite a stir in cyberspace, with many expressing their dissatisfaction against local authorities for not paying attention to the issue. 

Some even vowed to stop eating dried dates during the fasting month.

In response Yusof said consumers should inspect each product before purchasing. 

“The repackaged dried dates are usually in good condition, and over the years, none have been found to be contaminated. However, if it is found to be unhygienic or spoiled after purchase, consumers can always return the product to the sellers,” he said.

Attempts for a verification from the Food Safety and Quality Division of the health ministry were unsuccessful.



About the author

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

A budding journalist. Aside of struggling to understand Malaysian political scenario, she is inspired to study and fight for women's emancipation. Above the rest; she simply loves her nation.