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Ceres maker recalls apple juice over high levels of toxins

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Packets of Ceres apple juice. PHOTO | COURTESY

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Summary

  • South African food and beverage manufacturer Pioneer Foods has recalled its Ceres apple juice brands that sold in Kenya and other Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries due to contamination of mould toxins.
  • 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).

South African food and beverage manufacturer Pioneer Foods has recalled its Ceres apple juice brands that sold in Kenya and other Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries due to contamination of mould toxins.

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).

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." 

A spotcheck by Business Daily carried out on Wednesday afternoon showed the products were still retailing in several retail outlets within Nairobi.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has not publicly issued a position on the recall.  

The South African firm said separately its investigation had confirmed that "a limited quantity of apple juice concentrate supplied to them contained elevated levels of patulin, a mould toxin mainly found in rotting apples."

"The recall is based on the presence of patulin in a concentration of more than 50 parts per billion (ppb), which is the regulatory threshold," the company said.

The World Health Organisation states patulin, which is classified as a mycotoxin, is a naturally occurring toxin created by certain moulds that can be found in apples and apple products.

The risk of consuming patulin exceeding 50μg/l may lead to vomiting, nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms.