Local supplier probed for unsafe fruit concentrate use in recalled apple juices
- A probe has been launched into the conduct of Grabouw-based Elgin Fruit Juice as the source of SA’s apple juice recalls
- The Western Cape company supplies 100% apple juice concentrate to various beverage manufacturers
- Appletiser, Liquifruit, Woolworths apple juice products have been affected by the recalls
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has launched an investigation into the conduct of Elgin Fruit Juice after the recent recall of 100% apple juice products produced by Coca-Cola Beverages, Pioneer Foods, and Woolworths.
The Grabouw-based company supplies 100% apple juice concentrate to various fruit juice producers.
The NCC has reasonable grounds to believe that Elgin Fruit Juice supplied goods that are unsafe or pose a potential risk to the public.
Acting National Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza issued a statement on Wednesday.
Mabuza says the investigation into Elgin Fruit Juice will help the NCC understand the nature, causes, extent and degree of the risk to the public.
If the probe reveals that the supplier contravened the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), the commission will refer the matter to the National Consumer Tribunal.
In that case, Mabuza says the commission would hope for an administrative fine of 10% of their total annual turnover or R1 000 000, whichever is the greater.
The purpose and policy of the CPA amongst others, is to promote fair business practices while protecting consumers and ensuring that consumers enjoy their right to safe and good quality goods. We will not allow a situation where the health of consumers is compromisedThezi Mabuza, Acting Commissioner - National Consumer Commission
Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says there is limited detail about what Elgin Fruit Juice is suspected to have done.
Knowler explains that all the recalled apple juices contained levels of patulin that are above the regulatory limits.
Patulin is a fruit-based toxic compound that can sometimes cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, and vomiting, according to food safety experts.
The apple juice products that were recalled contained patulin levels exceeding 50 parts per billion, says Knowler.
That's the common ingredient there.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
What the [press] release didn't say is what the problem is and why we should be worried if at all.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
All the brands in question were found to contain elevated levels of patulin, which is a mould or fungal toxin found mainly in rotten apples. There's a regulatory threshold of no more than 50 parts per billion. The concentration was a little higher than that, but they haven't said how high which makes it difficult for people like food safety experts to comment.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist