SOUTH AFRICA – Pioneer Foods, one of the largest food and beverage manufacturer in South Africa (SA), has announced a recall of several LiquiFruit brands owing to elevated levels of mould toxins, and Ceres apple juice products sold outside the homeland country.

This comes barely a week after Appletiser, South African manufacturer of sparkling apple juice  announced a recall of six batches of its product over the same concern.

“The health and wellbeing of our consumers is of absolute importance to us, and hence when we identified the potential of a food safety issue, after in-house standard testing and engagement with one of our local suppliers, we immediately launched an internal investigation into all our 100% apple juice products,” said CEO Tertius Carstens.

The company’s investigation has confirmed that a limited quantity of apple juice concentrate supplied to them contained elevated levels of patulin, a mould toxin mainly found in rotting apples. The recall is based on the presence of patulin in a concentration of more than 50 parts per billion (ppb), which is the regulatory threshold.

“We have not received any complaints from consumers about these products, but decided to accelerate further testing on this product range to be absolutely certain of the extent of the potential impact,” Carstens said.

The World Health Organization states mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins created by certain moulds that can be found in apples and apple products. The risk of consuming patulin exceeding 50μg/l may lead to vomiting, nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The recalled products include LiquiFruit Clear Apple, 250ml carton, the LiquiFruit Clear Apple 330ml can and the LiquiFruit Clear Apple one-litre carton.

Those who have products on the recall list are urged to return them to the retailer from which they were purchased, to receive a full refund.

Coca-Cola Appletiser recall

Coca-Cola SA had also earlier confirmed that during a routine health and safety test, the company had found that six batches of its Appletiser product were found to contain mycotoxin patulin above the permitted tolerance for foodstuff. More than 37,000 cases of Appletiser, both cans and glass bottles, were recalled as a result.

The New South Wales (NSW) Food Authority confirmed a similar recall in Australia stating that the affected products originated from South Africa.

Food safety expert Dr Lucia Anelich said patulin is produced by the fungus on apples. She informed that fruit juices are pasteurized to kill off any microorganisms that could cause food poisoning and that could cause spoilage of the product, such as yeasts.

“But the heating temperatures used for pasteurization do not destroy the patulin. Using higher temperatures is impractical as the higher temperatures would affect certain desirable quality attributes of the product, making the juice undesirable for the consumer,” she explained.

Coca-Cola Namibia Bottling Company has also recalled specific batches of Appletiser that were confirmed to be outside acceptable standards.

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