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All you need to know about the tinned fish recall

The Mercury logo The Mercury 2020-02-26 Lyse Comins and Thulasizwe Nkomo
a can next to a cup of coffee: Consumers have been urged to return specified cans of pilchards in tomato sauce where they had purchased them after they were declared “unfit for consumption”. © Provided by The Mercury Consumers have been urged to return specified cans of pilchards in tomato sauce where they had purchased them after they were declared “unfit for consumption”. Durban - South African retailers have located and removed stocks of tinned fish which could potentially cause botulism in order to comply with a recall announced by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS).

The NRCS ordered all formal wholesalers, retailers and informal traders to remove and stop selling a range of 400g Pilchards in Tomato Sauce and 400g Pilchards in Chili Sauce with immediate effect on Monday.

“This follows the outcome of the investigation which the organisation conducted that revealed a deficiency in the canning process. Some of the cans were compromised during the sauce-filling step on the production line, which could affect the safety of consumers. The problem manifests itself after months of storage which causes the contents of the can to react with the metal of the can,” the NRCS said.

The regulator said the canning deficiency was “due to a defective sauce filler that dispenses the sauce into the can, where microscopic deformations were made inside the can body that was only revealed by the leakage of the can contents quite some time after the canning process”.

The NRCS said West Point Processors had manufactured the affected products in Cape Town last year and they had been distributed nationally.

“The NRCS wishes to implore all consumers to return the products to any shop where they were purchased for a refund,” the NRCS said.

The affected products include: Deep Catch, Mammas, OK Housebrand, Prime Ocean, Spar, Sunny, Shoprite Ritebrand, Cape Point, Checkers Housebrand, U Brand, Saldanha and West Point. The products bear markings starting with ZST29 and ZSC29 on top of the can.

“Food safety is a priority for NRCS and therefore the organisation is engaging all role-players to ensure that the affected products are removed from the market to protect consumers The manufacturer has already started the recall and the NRCS will continue to monitor the process with all the other wholesalers and retailers including the informal market to ensure the process is handled efficiently,” the NRCS said.

Shoprite spokesperson Sarita van Wyk earlier said the retail chain had immediately complied with the recall.

Spar group merchandise executive Mike Prentice said its supermarkets had identified Saldanha products with the affected batch numbers and had removed them from the shelves.

He said the group had received two truckloads of Spar brand products from West Point earlier last year and was in the process of checking whether stores had any in stock.

“The product moves very fast and the chances of us having stock pre-dating October 2019 is exceptionally low. The Spar brand after October 1 will all be safe,” Prentice said.

Woolworths said the supermarket did not sell products produced by the supplier and that it was not impacted by the recall.

“We do stock the Lucky Star Brand Pilchards in Tomato Sauce 400g, however, it is made by another manufacturer,” Woolworths said.

Pick * Pay said: “No Pick * Pay house brand is affected by the product recall. We have removed from sale the affected batches of Saldanha pilchards, which were the only products sold at Pick * Pay involved in the recall. We have asked customers to return any products from affected batches to the store for a full refund.”

Food scientist and member of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology, Professor Lucia Anilech, said botulism was the food poisoning most associated with low-acid canned foods such as fish.

“The illness is caused by the micro-organism Clostridium botulinum. It produces a toxin called botulin, which is what causes the illness called botulism if ingested. In food-borne botulism, symptoms usually begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food,” Anilech added.

However, she said symptoms, which included difficulty swallowing or speaking, dry mouth, facial weakness on both sides of the face, blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps and paralysis, could present as early as six hours or as late as 10 days.

“Foodborne botulism is relatively rare but when it strikes it can be severe if treatment is not received early,” she said.

Acting national consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the consumer protection body had not been informed of the recall.

“The Commission is weighing its options as empowered by the Consumer Protection Act. We have an option to conduct our own investigation. We will communicate our decision in due course.”

  • Deep Catch
  • Mammas
  • Prime Ocean
  • Spar
  • Sunny
  • Shoprite Ritebrand
  • Cape Point
  • Checkers Housebrand
  • U Brand
  • Saldanha
  • West Point

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