Apple juice scare: major retailers withdraw products from shelves

Published Oct 11, 2021


CAPE TOWN - Major South African retailers have removed apple juice products from their shelves following the recall of the LiquiFruit products.

An investigation has confirmed that a limited quantity of apple juice concentrate supplied to Pioneer Foods, which owns LiquiFruit, contained elevated levels of patulin.

Patulin is a toxin that commonly occurs in rotting apples, and the recall was based on the presence of patulin exceeding 50 parts per billion (microgram/kg), which is the regulatory threshold.

Retailer Pick n Pay said the recalled products were removed from shelves from Friday.

“Any customer who has bought one of the products affected by the recall can return them to Pick n Pay for a full refund,” they said.

Some of the recalled products include the LiquiFruit Clear Apple 250ml carton, LiquiFruit Clear Apple 300ml can, and LiquiFruit Clear Apple 1L.

The LiquiFruit recall also affects Botswana and Namibia, while Ceres products have been recalled from 25 other countries.

These include the exported Ceres Apple Sparkling 275 ml glass, and Ceres Apple 200ml.

Woolworths has also recalled some of its 100% apple juice 200 ml cartons, with reports that Pioneer Foods is the supplier of the juice.

Yesterday it said: “We have removed our Woolies apple products from store shelves, as per our recall and process. We do not stock LiquiFruit.”

Acting national consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza urged consumers to return the apple juices.

“Consumers who have these products must not consume them but return them immediately to the point of purchase. We understand that the recall follows Pioneer Foods’ quality routine checks and laboratory testing that revealed elevated levels of mycotoxin patulin found in the product,” said Mabuza.

She said the Commission would work closely with the supplier to monitor the recall.

Pioneer Foods chief executive Tertius Carstens said: “When we identified the potential of a food safety issue, following in-house standard testing and engagement with one of our local suppliers, we immediately launched an internal investigation into all our 100% apple juice products. We have not received any complaints from consumers about these products but decided to accelerate further testing on this product range to be absolutely certain of the extent of the potential impact.”

At the end of last month, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa announced the recall of certain Appletiser products.

The company said the recall of 37 362 cases distributed nationwide is as a result of the presence of patulin exceeding 50μg/l in some of the batches at levels above permitted tolerance for fungus-produced toxins in foodstuffs.

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

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