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UN suspends suspect super cereal's distribution

03 maggio 2019 | 15.52
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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The United Nations World Food Programme has halted distribution worldwide of a fortified blended cereal from one of its suppliers as tests continue to find out whether it is linked to outbreaks of illness in East Africa, WFP said in a statement.

The move came after medical officials said three people died and 293 were admitted to health centres in the Karamoja region of Northeast Uganda in March and April after eating Super Cereal, the statement said.

Super Cereal is distributed by WFP and partners to prevent malnutrition, especially among women and children. Made from maize or wheat blended with soya beans, it is fortified with vitamins and minerals, processed into a flour and supplied in 25-kg bags.

WFP said had it acted "swiftly", temporarily suspending all distributions of Super Cereal first in Karamoja and then across Uganda and launching communications campaigns, including through radio, urging the return of any remaining stocks. The UN agency halted the distribution globally of all products from Super Cereal's supplier on 9 April, an operation involving 25 countries, said the statement.

At the end of April, WFP ordered over 21,000 metric tonnes of Super Cereal from the same supplier - with a value of 22 million dollars - to be secured in warehouses and storage areas around the world belonging to the agency and its partners.

"This issue is unprecedented in its implications for WFP’s global supply chain," the statement said.

Preliminary investigations have failed to conclusively establish what caused the illness. Over 2,400 food-related laboratory tests have been conducted so far - including for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides and microbial contaminants - but the root cause of the problem has not yet been established, the statement noted.

Tests will continue on samples from the warehoused stock, according to the statement.

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