Head of the public health services Christos Christou said authorities acted swiftly and blocked the bulk of the shipment before it reached the market.
As part of routine screening, on March 2 samples were taken of a baby-food product imported from Russia and manufactured in Israel. Out of the five samples sent to the state lab, three returned positive, indicating the presence of the bacteria known as sakazakii.
In infants it can cause bacteraemia, meningitis and necrotising enterocolitis. Some neonatal infections have been associated with the use of powdered infant formula.
The samples were taken from the warehouse of a Limassol importer. The product in question was in the meantime sequestered until the lab results came through.
In total, all 120 packages of the suspect product have since been seized and will be destroyed, Christou said.
Additionally, the same shipment contained six other products, also baby food, in smaller numbers. Initially samples from these other products were not taken; this was done subsequently, when on March 27 the first baby-product tested positive for the sakazakii bacteria.
The six other products were sequestered after March 27.
However prior to that, Christou said, a “small number” of these six other products had been sold by the importer. Authorities tracked down the single shop in Limassol to which the items were sold, and discovered that in the meantime a few dozen packages had been purchased by consumers.
The test results on the samples from the six other products are expected within a week, said Christou.
Health authorities do not reveal the name of an imported product that has been seized before it has reached consumers, or in the case where a product is in the process of being tested.
All of the products in the shipment are of the same Israeli manufacturer.
Published on March 30, 2012