Not glass – Pioneer foods confirms alleged contamination on juice brand as product recall continues

SOUTH AFRICA – Pioneer Foods, South African packaged goods company has recalled a single batch of its 300ml cans of Liqui Fruit red grape juice brand following allegations that it contained small shreds of glasses.

Following the launch of reports by some consumers, the company issued a national recall of the product and immediately undertook investigation to ascertain the root cause and extent of the issue.

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According to a press-release by the company, Pioneer Foods confirms that what was previously visually identified as “shards of glass” is actually crystals of a naturally occurring substance in products of grapes called potassium bitartrate.

“We also apologise for any anxiety caused whilst we awaited the outcome of the detailed analysis of the crystals,”

Tertius Carstens – CEO of Pioneer Foods/PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa

“Following extensive elemental testing at separate specialist laboratories, we have since received confirmation that the glass-like crystals seen in the Liqui Fruit 330ml red grape juice is in fact the crystalline form of a substance that is commonly found in high concentrations in grapes and products of grapes,” said Tertius Carstens, CEO of Pioneer Foods/PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa explains that

“The initial visual assessment by a laboratory of the sample as provided by a consumer indicated the matter to be glass. We opted to trigger the recall whilst we awaited the outcome of the technical analysis of the matter given the health and safety risk associated with the potential presence of glass in the product,” states Carstens.

Grapes naturally contain both tartaric acid and potassium. When these two elements bind together under chilly conditions, they form potassium bitartrate crystals that present as glass- like particles.

Potassium Bitartrate is a natural occurring material and non-toxic and commonly known as cream of tartar when used as a cooking aid.

Given the presence of the crystals the recall is continuing and consumers are urged not to consume or dispose of the product but to return it for a full refund.

“We’d like to thank all our retail and distribution partners, the National Consumer Commission and most importantly our loyal consumers for their understanding and assistance with this recall. We also apologise for any anxiety caused whilst we awaited the outcome of the detailed analysis of the crystals,” concludes Carstens.

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Following a cautionary notice from the COMESA Competition Commission (CCC) warning the general public against consuming Liqui Fruit Red Grape, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) of Zambia has also cautioned consumers in the country.

Likewise, the Competition and Fair-Trading Commission (CFTC) of Malawi issued a cautionary statement to the citizen of the country where the product is also sold.

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