SEYCHELLES – Apex hotel supplies, one of the largest distributors in the Seychelles, has called on consumers to  return any Ceres 100% Apple Juice purchased to the company for a refund following a recall by the manufacturing firm in South Africa over mycotoxin concerns.

The announcement from Apex follows a notice issued by the Competition Commission of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) that said South Africa-based Pioneer Foods is recalling some batches of Ceres 100% Apple Juice produced between June 14-30, 2021, after laboratory tests found patulin levels higher than the legal threshold of 50 parts per billion (microgram/kg).

The specific batches of the recalled Ceres 100% Apple Juice are Ceres Apple (4x6x200ml), Ceres Apple Sparkling 275 ml Glass and Ceres Apple (12x1L).

Ceres Fruit Juices Pty Ltd, trading as The Ceres Beverage company, is a beverage company based in Paarl, South Africa. The Company produces fruit juice and other fruit-based products and is a subsidiary of Pioneer Foods.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), patulin is a form of mycotoxin – a toxic substance produced by a fungus. Consumption of high levels of patulin may cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances and vomiting.

The Ministry of Health told South Africa News Agency (SNA) that the issue with the Ceres juice has been referred to the Food Control Unit and that the matter is being investigated. The Ministry said that should the product be seen as harmful for human consumption, local laws allow the health authorities to completely ban the juice from entering Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Other COMESA markets follow suite

Aside from Seychelles, the product has been recalled from five other COMESA markets which are Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mauritius, Zambia and South Africa.

The COMESA Competition Commission in a statement warned consumers to avoid the purchase of the recalled products.

“Pioneer Foods has informed the commission that the recalled products were imported and marketed in (some) member states of COMESA. In view of the foregoing…the Commission would like to inform the general public to exercise caution and avoid the purchase or consumption of the recalled products,” said the regional trading bloc’s competition watchdog in a statement.

In Kenya, a spot-check by Business Daily carried out on Wednesday afternoon showed the products were still retailing in several retail outlets within Nairobi. The regulatory body responsible, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has not publicly issued a position on the recall. 

The Pioneer Foods product recall comes a week after Coca-Cola South Africa also recalled certain batches of Appletiser, reportedly due to high patulin levels.

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