BUSINESS MAVERICK

Tiger Brands recalls 20 million canned food products after leak poses contamination risk

By Mfuneko Toyana 26 July 2021

A Tiger Brands Enterprise outlet in Germiston. Tiger Brands said it decided to institute the recall of 20 million cans after consultations with the National Consumer Council. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

A welding defect in KOO and Hugo's cans dating back to 2019 forced the recall, which may cost Tiger Brands more than half a billion rand.

Mfuneko Toyana

Processed foods maker Tiger Brands is recalling 20 million cans of its KOO and Hugo’s vegetable products after a leak in a batch of goods detected in May this year was found to have been wider than initially thought, the company said on Monday. The move could cost the firm more than half a billion rand. 

The recall spans more than two dozen variants and includes its popular KOO baked beans brand. The recall applies to products released for sale as far back as 2019. Tiger Brands said it decided to institute the recall after consultations with the National Consumer Council (NCC).  

Tiger Brands first discovered the defective products in May 2021, prior to their release for sale, linking them to a “deficient side seam weld that could cause the cans to leak”. The leaks were then found to have potentially affected a wider number of products already released to market, after the firm performed a “transport and handling test”, which found that two out of  287,040 cans inspected showed leaks.

“A leak in a can presents a risk of secondary microbial contamination after the canned products are dispatched into the marketplace. Where such contamination occurs, it will present a low probability of illness and injury if the contaminated product is consumed,” Tiger Brands said in a statement. 

The cost of recalling will be deep for the food maker, in a year already marked by trading difficulties due to Covid-19. The firm has already said it lost around R150-million worth of stock due to looting and vandalism that hit its KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng operations two weeks ago. 

“The financial impact of the recall, including the cost of the potentially affected stock that may be written off, transport and storage costs, as well as the loss of margin on the returned stock, is estimated at between R500-million and R650-million,” said Tiger Brands.

And the company will have to tread carefully after it bungled its response to the 2018 listeriosis outbreak linked to its Enterprise meat-processing operations in Polokwane, where it produced its polony products. Back then, it was slow to acknowledge its role in the outbreak that ultimately caused more than 200 deaths — the world’s worst case of the foodborne bacterial illness — and led to a class-action suit by affected families.  

Tiger Brands said customers could return the canned products at their nearest supermarket or wholesale outlet, for a refund. BM/DM

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  • So the defective cans are discovered in May 2021 but the recall only happens nearly 3 months later at end July 2021! This coming hard on the heels of the polony scandal one must conclude that Tiger’s management and directors are not only tortoises but also incompetent!

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