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Tiger Brands engages CCZ… Zim retailers say it’s ‘brave action, but a little too late’

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

SOUTH African food manufacturing giant Tiger Brands has recalled several batches of its KOO and Hugo branded canned vegetable products in a battle to protect consumers from potential food poisoning after detecting packaging leakages.

Tiger Brands, whose products have a significant presence on Zimbabwe’s supermarket shelves, has advised the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) of the defects in a development described by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers as “brave action”.

Correspondence between Tiger Brands and the CCZ gleaned by businessdigest this week, indicated that the canned vegetable products were manufactured between May 1, 2019 and May 2021.

“Tiger Consumer Brands Limited has identified a defect in the packaging (tin can) of its KOO and Hugo’s branded canned vegetable products at one of the company’s sites. This relates specifically to a small number (18) of leaking canned vegetable food products which had been identified by Tiger Brands groceries division during May 2021, as part of its internal quality assurance processes. These defective cans were identified prior to the final labelling of the finished products and were traced back to three different batches of cans sourced from one of the division’s key packaging suppliers,” Tiger Brands group compliance director Avish Kalicharan said.

“Notwithstanding that only two side seam leaks had been detected as a result of the further tests, with consumer safety as an absolute priority, Tiger Brands considered it appropriate, on 21 July 2021, to undertake a precautionary recall. This was based on Tiger Brands’ preliminary assessment that the cold weld seam defect has the potential to cause the can to leak resulting in potential secondary microbial contamination,” Kalicharan said.

“If the product becomes contaminated and is consumed the effect on the person eating the contaminated product could vary from no effect, a mild stomach upset to food poisoning, depending on the type of microbial contamination concerned. “Although there has been no reported cases of consumer injury or health related concerns, we are informing the ministry of the issue and the precautionary recall we are undertaking. The products affected by the recall relate to KOO and Hugo’s branded canned vegetable products manufactured during the period 1 May 2019 to 5 May 2021,” Tiger Brands group compliance director added.

KOO products are locally distributed by Innscor Distribution, which businessdigest understands has initiated a product recall.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Denford Mutashu said while the recall was a “brave action” it was “a little too late”.

“The  recall is a brave move by Tiger Brands but unfortunately a little too late — two and half years down the line after millions more cans have already been consumed. It also points to weaker quality checks by our local authorities,” he said.

“If the product had been subjected to robust checks, the problem may have been picked way back and avoided the serious health dangers the blundering by the manufacturer has posed to innocent consumers. The manufacturer has only offered to refund for the items returned, but silent on compensation to affected customers who consumed the product unbeknown of the danger posed. It is a wakeup call for all to never rely on imported goods especially such non-essentials.  It’s high time we ramp up domestic production and become self-sufficient through robust industrial revival,” Mutashu added.

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