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Supermarkets rush to remove Ceres apple juice after recall

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Packets of Ceres apple juice. PHOTO | COURTESY

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Summary

  • Supermarkets have moved to withdraw South African food and beverage manufacturer Pioneer Foods Ceres’s apple juice brands that were recalled due to contamination.
  • The recalled brands were detected to have elevated levels of patulin - a fruit-based mould which when consumed can cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, and vomiting.
  • A spot check by Business Daily in various city stores showed workers have removed some of the Ceres brands.

Supermarkets have moved to withdraw South African food and beverage manufacturer Pioneer Foods Ceres’s apple juice brands after the juice maker confirmed certain batches of the product sold in Kenya were affected by contamination of mould toxins.

The Retail Traders Association (Retrak) said on Thursday supermarkets had removed all the Ceres juice products from their shelves - out of abundance of caution for the safety of customers-pending assessment of their safety by relevant standards authorities.

"Yes, (we have removed them)," Retrak CEO Wambui Mbarire told Business Daily when asked whether members had responded to quality concerns.

The recalled brands were detected to have elevated levels of patulin - a fruit-based mould which when consumed can cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, and vomiting, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A spot check by Business Daily in various city stores showed workers have removed some of the Ceres brands.

Pioneer Foods had said Wednesday in a statement that “a single batch of Ceres juice” was “affected in Kenya.”

“It is the 1L 100 percent Apple juice with best before date 21.06.2022. This is the only batch of Ceres juice affected by this recall,” the firm told Business Daily in a statement.

“We can confirm that all stock of the affected juice in Kenya, has been isolated by the distributor and will not be released to the market or retail stores.  This stock will be destroyed in country as per local regulation.”

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Competition Commission on Wednesday said Pioneer Foods had informed it that the affected juice brands were imported and marketed in several countries including Kenya.

"In view of the foregoing...the Commission would like to inform the general public to exercise caution and avoid the purchase or consumption of the recalled products," said the regional trading bloc’s competition watchdog in a statement.

"If the above products were already purchased, consumers are advised to return the products where they were purchased for a refund or replacement."

Pioneer Foods said it had engaged the relevant South African regulatory authorities, as well as various African regulatory bodies.

“This morning the SA National Consumer Commission announced it is launching an investigation into the local supplier of the apple juice concentrate,” it said. 

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has not publicly issued a position on the recall. The standards agency had not responded to Business Daily queries by press time on Thursday afternoon.