Botswana and Mozambique have ordered the removal of certain brands of tinned South African sardines from shelves across the two countries as they were contaminated.
The brands affected by this problem are Cape Point, Checkers and Rittebrand. Large quantities were exported to other Southern African countries before the alarm was sounded.
Permanent Secretary in Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, Solomon Sekwakwa, ordered consumers who recently bought 400 gramme tins of pilchards in tomato sauce manufactured by West Point Processors in South Africa to return them.
Sekwakwa said the Ministry of Health and Wellness is in receipt of a communication from the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, South Africa, with regards to the recall of canned 400g pilchards in tomato sauce and pilchards in chilli sauce with immediate effect.
The affected product brands include; Deep Catch, Mmamas, OK Housebrand, Prime Ocean, Spar, Sunny, Shoprite Rittebrand, Cape Point, Checkers Housebrand, U Brand, Saldanha and West Point Processor.
Sekwakwa said all products with the batch codes starting with ZST29 and ZSC29 on top of the can are subject to recall.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has issued a mandatory recall to all wholesalers, supermarkets, distributors, retailers, traders and importers of the above indicated canned pilchard products with immediate effect as they are part of the local distribution,” Sekwakwa said.
He said the cause of the recall is due to a deficiency in the canning process and that the ministry was urging consumers not to eat the affected products as they could be unfit for human consumption.
“The public is there informed that customers who bought any of the affected pilchard products to return them to the respective shops for a full refund. The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to collaborate with South African authorities to monitor the situation and give regular updates,” said Sekwakwa.
According to South African media reports, the National Consumer Commission said West Point Processors failed to inform it about the recall as per regulations. The commission ordered all wholesalers, retailers and informal traders to remove the recalled pilchards from their shelves.
In Mozambique, the country’s health ministry also ordered the removal from the market of several South African brands of tinned sardines which pose a threat to human health.
The South African authorities themselves issued a warning, saying that the tins had been badly sealed. Since the tins were no longer airtight, oxidation could set in, and the sardines could be contaminated with rust and bacteria.
The National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, said that once it received the warning, the Health Ministry alerted the National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE), which is responsible for removing the sardines from the shelves.
The INAE General Inspector, Rita Freitas, said the customs services have been instructed not to allow any more tinned sardines of these brands to enter the country.
While it may be fairly simple to remove the sardines from well organised supermarkets, controlling sales of the potentially contaminated fish in the sprawling informal markets could prove altogether more difficult.
- Own Correspondent/AIM.