March 22, 2018

FDA Issues Final Guidance for Import Refusal of Ackee

The FDA has issued final guidance on import enforcement for ackee, a fruit that contains the toxin hypoglycin A. When the fruit is fully ripe, the toxin drops to negligible levels, but if the fruit isn’t ripe or if it isn’t properly processed to remove the seeds and rind, concentrations of hypoglycin A can rise about 100 parts per million and become a health risk. The FDA now has the authority to seize domestic product and to refuse imports.

warning recall signAckee is a tropical fruit about four inches long. When immature, it is green. A mature fruit is yellow, with an overlay of bright red with three bulging seams. The fleshy, pale yellow arils inside are the edible part.

Ackee is found in West Africa, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is also found in Florida. The fruit is marketed to Caribbean people. Most processors pick the fruit when it is not ripe. Several inspections are necessary to ensure that the fruit is ripening properly, is not spoiling, and that the poisonous parts of the plant are removed during processing. Making sure that employees are well trained to spot problems is an issue with this product.

The final Compliance Policy recommends secure or import refusal of any canned, frozen, or other ackee products with more than 100 ppm of hypoglycin A, unless the firm os on the Green List.  The toxin is in the unripe aril, seeds, raphe, and rind at a level of 1000 parts per million.

Symptoms of ackee poisoning range from mild, including some vomiting, to severe, or vomiting with profound hypoglycemia, drowsiness, muscular exhaustion, prostration, and possibly coma and death.


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