THE Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has gone from flagging only vegetables from Spain and Germany to flagging greens from the rest of the European Union (EU).
The widening of its ‘hold-and-test’ requirement comes on the heels of a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany, thought to be spread through contaminated cucumbers imported from Spain.
The ‘hold-and-test’ procedure refers to the practice of sending suspected items for tests and withholding their sale until they are found to be free of contaminants.
On Sunday, the AVA had said it would place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from Germany and Spain under hold-and-test, but it has since confirmed that cucumbers from Germany, Spain and Denmark are not brought in here.
Some, however, do come in from the Netherlands; between January and last month, 69kg of cucumbers were imported.
Yesterday, the AVA spokesman said: ‘In view of the recent situation, AVA will place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from the EU under hold-and-test, should there be such imports.’
They’ve waged war against deer and battled hungry possums that snatch tomatoes just when they are at the peak of their flavor. But there’s one pest the Newark Street gardeners have been unable to thwart: a certain two-legged rat with a penchant for peonies.
For 10 years, gardeners in this Northwest Washington neighborhood believe the same man has been stealing spring blooms from their plots in the Newark Street Community Garden. Not just a few stems, mind you, but bunches — as many as 30 to 50 at a time.
“He does this every year, starting with the peonies,” said Marcia Stein, one of the flower thief’s victims, who lost a bunch of blooms this month. “Last year, he stole all of my peonies.”
Gardeners say the suspect has expensive taste. He ignores lesser flowers in favor of pricier blooms. (At Johnson’s Florist and Garden Center in Cleveland Park, peonies sell for $8.99 a stem.)
And when he steals them, he’s not gentle: He rips the blooms right out of the ground.
For years, the gardeners kept quiet, fearful that publicity would encourage more thefts.
On the red mud of Waipahu’s Pouhala Marsh, a Hawaiian stilt flapped its wings, trying to lure away a potential predator of its young.
The predator, Jason Misaki’s white pickup truck, stopped several feet away. Misaki hopped out and walked a wide circle, looking into patches of vegetation for the stilt’s fledglings.
Earlier that morning, Misaki caught three stilt chicks by hand and placed colored bands on the birds’ long legs as part of a survey of the number of stilts born at the marsh.
This year, the number of fledglings at Pouhala is on track to surpass any year since the state began restoring the marsh nine years ago — a sign of its successful recovery.
The 70-acre marsh is the largest wetland in Pearl Harbor and provides an important habitat for the Hawaiian stilt, along with the Hawaiian coot and moorhen, all endangered Hawaiian water birds. Hawaiian stilts number about 1,500 today. About 100 typically feed at Pouhala Marsh at any given time.
Misaki, the state’s wildlife program manager for Oahu, said preserving Pouhala is an important part of saving the stilt, which differs from the North American stilt by having more black on its head and neck.
Misaki said preserving species native to Hawaii is important because “it’s their habitat. These are symbols of Hawaii, a symbol of the people of Hawaii, the landscape and the animals of Hawaii.”
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination with a potentially deadly bacteria are being recalled from stores in Austria and the Czech Republic to prevent the spread of a deadly outbreak, officials said Sunday.
The death toll from the bacteria rose to at least 10 people, and hundreds across Europe have been sickened.