JMEA & JAPA Advises on the Safety and Precautions of Buying and Consuming Ackee Locally
Kingston, Jamaica: The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Jamaica AgroProcessors Association (JAPA) are aware of the current widespread concerns regarding the safety of ackees, Jamaica’s national fruit. Particularly, concerns revolve around the safety of the fruit, whether the current drought has affected the natural process by which the fruit becomes detoxified (and thus safe for consumption) and unsafe practices that are reportedly being employed in preparing and offering the fruit for sale in our local market. The JMEA and JAPA, both entities that are advised by the best expertise available on ackees, can assure the public that ackees, handled and produced for consumption locally in accordance with well-known and well-established traditional practices and norms, are safe.
Extensive work done by researchers at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), supported by historical data gathered by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), has characterized the stages of ripening of the fruit, its safety and (in 2005/2006) the impact of drought and weather-related conditions on the toxin content of the fruit. This work (which is published internationally) and the scientists that produced it, assure us that nothing has substantially changed over the years. Specifically, TSL also advises that current data confirm that ackees which were selected when fully opened, continue to be substantially free of hypoglycin, the toxin associated with ackee poisoning.
Over the last 25 years, members of the JMEA and JAPA, supported by this local expertise have invested heavily in the study of, and development of systems to ensure the safety of ackees processed for local consumption and for exports. This has resulted in canned ackees being amongst the safest of commercially processed products, whether offered for sale locally or exported. In fact, there has never been a credible incident of ackee poisoning reported for canned ackees in the more than 50 years that canned ackees have been offered for sale in Jamaica and internationally.
Besides representing a significant component of our processed food exports (valued at US$24.5 million in 2021), ackees are an important part of Jamaican culture. The JMEA and JAPA, therefore wish Jamaicans to be assured that their national fruit, whether produced for local sale or for export, continues to be safe. We urge consumers, however, to ensure that they know and trust the source from which they are getting the fruit and to use only fruit taken from fully ripened, wide open pods to prepare their favourite ackee meal.
For more information, please contact:
Marketing & PR Manager, JMEA
Marketing & PR Officer, JMEA