In an update to a press release circulated by the Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) on April 27th, informing the Bahamian public about recent conch poisoning cases in New Providence – on Monday, May 17th, the agency published another release – this time asking Bahamians to not consume or purchase raw conch or conch that they suspect was not properly handled or prepared, until the source of the contamination can be determined.
The communication emphasized that the purchasing or consumption of raw conch at this time is at the consumer’s own risk. It also informed that an active investigation, a collaboration between multiple medical agencies, is now ongoing to determine the cause behind the recent spate of conch poisonings. Conch vendors were also asked to immediately discontinue the preparation and sale of raw conch dishes, until the findings of the investigation are known.
See the full release below:
“Further to the press release on 27th April, 2021, The Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority’s (BAHFSA) Food Safety and Quality Unit advises consumers not to purchase or consume any raw (fresh) conch or conch that they suspect was not properly handled and/or prepared (fully cooked) until the source of the contamination can be determined. Note that the purchasing and/or consumption of raw conch will be at your own risk.
An active investigation is currently ongoing to determine the cause of the suspected conch poisoning in collaboration with the Public Hospitals Authority, Princess Margaret Hospital Microbiology Laboratory, the Food Safety and Technology Laboratory in the Department of Marine Resources and the Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment Division (EMRAD) Public Analyst Laboratory in the Department of Environmental Health Services. Until their findings are known, we ask that all conch vendors discontinue the preparation and sale of raw (fresh) conch dishes immediately. Upon the completion of the investigations, BAHFSA will make its recommendations with regard to the consumption of raw conch.
BAHFSA strongly advises all consumers to only eat well-cooked conch at this time, heated at 100oC for more than 10 minutes to ensure the destruction of any potential pathogenic organisms. It is also advised that this cooked conch not be left at temperatures above 5oC (41oF) for more than 2hrs., otherwise, throw it out.
PLEASE NOTE: if you or any family member consumed raw conch and it made you feel ill, you are asked to seek treatment at the nearest clinic, hospital or Doctor’s office. We also ask that those affected provide the place and date of purchase and any other pertinent information or personal samples requested by medical personnel.
BAHFSA requests that all medical facilities, including those on the family islands, report any suspected cases of gastroenteritis or conch poisoning to the Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health.
Feel free to contact BAHFSA at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for any additional inquiries.”