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The Health Ministry has ordered an immediate halt to the sale of the Vege 2 Fresh brand of iceberg lettuce, which has been found to be contaminated with the chemical fipronil. (NSTP Archive)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has ordered an immediate halt to the sale of the Vege 2 Fresh brand of iceberg lettuce, which has been found to be contaminated with the chemical fipronil.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the order follows a recall of iceberg lettuce brands imported from Malaysia by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) after it detected high levels of pesticides in the vegetable.

“The AVA directed a recall for iceberg lettuce under the ‘Pasar’ and ‘Iceberg’ brands imported from Malaysia,” he said in a statement.

Exposure to Fipronil – which is a wide-spectrum pesticide used to repel fleas and ticks – can lead to serious health effects. Symptoms of acute toxicity via ingestion include sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, dizziness, agitation, weakness, and cramping.

From 2017 until July this year, Dr Noor Hisham said 5,297 samples of vegetables and fruits were taken from local markets and the country’s main entry points for analysis.

The results showed that 97 of the samples (1.8 per cent) were found to contain pesticide residue exceeding the maximum permitted limit.

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