Pioneer Foods has confirmed that the substance in its Liqui Fruit 330ml red grape juice cans is not glass.
Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer Foods/PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa, Tertius Carstensthat, said what was previously visually identified as shards of glass found in the 330ml cans is actually crystals of a naturally occurring substance in products of grapes called potassium bitartrate.
On Saturday 5 September, the company issued a national recall of a single batch of product, based on the likelihood that the substance found in the juice by three consumers were shards of glass.
In a statement on Thursday, Carstens said that an investigation was launched as to the root cause and extent of the issue.
“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.
“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,” Carstens explained.
An opinion provided by the Department of Health on the matter suggests that grape juice naturally contain tartrate salts that look like crystal and upon cooling these crystals should stabilize
Potassium Bitartrate is a natural occurring material and non-toxic. It is commonly known as cream of tartar when used as a cooking aid.
Given the presence of the crystals, Carstens said the recall is continuing and consumers are urged not to consume or dispose of the product but to return it for a full refund.
To date, Carstens said Pioneer Foods has approximately 70% of the product out of general circulation and under its control.
“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,” Carstens said.
Acting National Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the recall was important in ensuring that consumers are protected.
The commission also urged consumers who might still have the product to return the cans to retailers for a full refund.
“Our primary purpose with regard to product recalls is to ensure that any unsafe product is effectively removed from the marketplace and hands of the consumers. It is important to remind consumers to return the product back to the retailers of purchase for a full refund,” Mabuza said.
The description of the affected product is as follows:
Pioneer Foods Product Code: 27327
Outer case Barcode: 6001240225615
Shrink pack Barcode: 6001240225608
Single Unit Barcode: 6001240225592 – (printed on side of can)
Specific date coding BB 01.04.2021 C TIME and BB 02.04.2021 C TIME