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SVG arrowroot starch given all-clear

SVG arrowroot starch given all-clear

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The St Vincent Arrowroot Association has received full payment of over EC$700,000 (US$266,000) for 38,000 lbs of arrowroot exported to the United States (US) earlier this year, after a laboratory in the US confirmed that the shipment was not contaminated with salmonella.{{more}}

A release from the Ministry of Agriculture said that after three months of investigation into allegations of salmonella contamination, arrowroot originating from this country has been given the all-clear deeming it fit for use.

Purchasers of the arrowroot starch received the technical all clear from a laboratory in the US and the full payment of US $266,000 has been made to the Arrowroot Association, the release said.

The recent authorization comes weeks after an independent test conducted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) revealed that starch from the same batch, remaining at the factory in Owia, was not contaminated with salmonella.

The starch was exported from St Vincent in July. In mid-August, when notification was received that the shipment there may have been contaminated with salmonella, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT that he suspected that the starch may have been contaminated during shipment, as the purchaser said some of the bags of starch he received had water marks on them.

“There is a strong possibility that the container may have been compromised during shipment.

“We know what we put in the container, that all the bags were in order. And he will know that he took out of the container, five bags with water marks…,” the Minister said then.

In a brief interview yesterday, Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT that whatever contamination there was, may have been limited to the five bags with the water marks.

In 2013, this country exported 26,000 lbs of starch and 45,000 lbs in 2014, reflecting a 75 per cent increase in production.

The release from the Ministry said that the current demand for arrowroot starch from SVG stands at 120,000 lbs annually.

“The industry has returned an increase in production over the past three years with a marked increase being shown as a result of an increase in the price for arrowroot starch from US$5 per lb to US$7 per lb. Local farmers consequently have received an increase from 36 cents to $1 per lb for rhizomes.”

Caesar noted that attention is being directed to conducting much needed repair works at the factory in Owia. At present, the Ministry is meeting with technical advisors from Argentina and has begun discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to put in place a process for the improvement of the faculties in Owia and Orange Hill.

The Arrowroot Association is expecting to export another 6,000 lbs of starch, valued at EC$42,000 to the US later this week and to also place 1,000 lbs of starch on the local market.

The Ministry of Agriculture anticipates a further increase in starch production for 2015.

Arrowroot starch is an easily digested, silky starch, which is used as a thickener in many foods, such as puddings and sauces, and is also used in cookies and other baked goods.

Salmonella bacilli can cause diarrhoeal illness in humans and is responsible for over 50 per cent of all human infections in the US. Some salmonella strains that exist in humans can make animals sick, and vice versa. The bacteria live in the gut of infected humans and animals.

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