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Ackee imports under scrutiny in the U.S.

FDA identifies Jamaica's national fruit as potentially hazardous if consumed unripened

The United States has identified ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, as potentially hazardous if consumed unripened, due to a toxin that can be fatal, as per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ackee, a tropical fruit, has gained prominence in Jamaica and is a component of the country's national dish alongside salt fish, with other Caribbean nations like Grenada and Trinidad also cultivating it. In the U.S., it is grown in South Florida, but concerns regarding its safety could impact its perception.

Importers of ackee in any form, including canned, dried, raw, or frozen, without proper authorization, face potential detention of their shipments by U.S. authorities. Exporters must seek approval from the FDA to enter the U.S. market unless their products are on the agency's "green list" of accepted ackee items, highlighting the stringent regulations surrounding its importation.

The FDA highlights the danger of hypoglycin A, a toxin present in unripened ackee, particularly in its rind and seeds, which remains stable under heat, posing significant health risks even when cooked. Ackee is deemed safe by the FDA when it contains up to 100 parts per million of hypoglycin A and is properly processed. The ripeness of the fruit influences the toxin levels, with the rind and seeds always containing higher concentrations. Ripened ackee is characterized by a firm, yellow rind with a bright red interior, and naturally split sections revealing edible arils and hard, dark seeds. Unripe or artificially ripened ackee, indicated by a closed fruit or discolored arils, is considered unsafe and poisonous.


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