Pretoria - The supplier of Howe instant noodles is in hot water for allegedly supplying unsafe goods after five children who ate its product in different provinces died.
The National Consumer Commission has announced that it would be initiating the probe into the conduct of Grandisync CC, the supplier of Howe instant noodles, to determine any negligence after gathering information from other regulators and the supplier itself.
The company, which is at the centre of food poisoning claims, is based in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.
This comes after three children in the Eastern Cape and two siblings from Mpumalanga died last month after allegedly consuming the Howe 2-minute noodles. Thezi Mabuza, the acting National Consumer Commissioner, said that based on the information submitted to the commissioner by other regulators and the supplier itself, they had reasonable suspicion to believe that the supplier had supplied unsafe goods that posed a potential risk to the public.
Mabuza said that while the commission was awaiting laboratory results, the investigation would in the interim help them understand the nature, causes, extent and degree of the risk to the public.
“Consumer safety is at the heart of the Consumer Protection Act.
“Should our investigation reveal that Grandisnyc CC had indeed contravened the provisions of the act, we will refer the matter to the National Consumer Tribunal for the imposition of an administrative fine of 10% of their total annual turnover or R1 million; whichever is the greater,“ said Mabuza.
“As regulators in the food safety environment, we will get to the bottom of this matter to ensure that those liable are held accountable. Suppliers are obliged to protect consumers when there are potential hazards, and they’re required to inform the relevant regulators and consumers.”
News of the investigation came as a relief for many parents and social media users, who had been speculating and worried about which brand of 2-minute noodles were responsible for the deaths of the children.
“This is a serious matter; the lives of innocent kids were lost. The manufacturers should be held accountable and charged.
“Name the product,” Romilla Ramballi said on Twitter.
“Why don’t they take it off the shelves in supermarkets and house shops,” added Myrtle Reynecke.
The deaths also sparked an urgent investigation by the departments of Health in Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng to ascertain the extent and causes of the possible food poisoning.
They revealed that preliminary investigations conducted by environmental health practitioners in all affected provinces and municipalities had ensured the remainders of the food products were collected from the affected households and sent for testing.
The initial set of children to die had bought the noodles from foreign shopkeepers, but social media called people out for xenophobia, with @Sentletse saying: “There were idiots here who were quick to blame Somalis for the deaths of those kids in Mpumalanga who died after eating noodles. The culprit is a South African maker of noodles.
“Xenophobia is a national pastime.”
“Remember, Somalians have their own products,” was the retort of @Wiseman62683782, while @Thinker said: “…they are capable of making a copy of noodles and a copy of packaging.”