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Pioneer Foods, one of South Africa’s largest producers and distributors of food and beverage products has recalled certain batches of Ceres apple juice that had been sold in several African countries, including Kenya.

According to a statement by the COMESA Competition Commission, the decision was arrived at following a number of laboratory tests that revealed high levels of patulin.

“The supplied concentrate contains patulin levels higher than the legal threshold of 50 parts per billion (microgram/kg),” read the statement in part.

Patulin is viewed as a natural contaminant in apple-based products, particularly apple juice and unfermented apple cider.

Initially identified as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent, patulin was reclassified as a mycotoxin in the 1960s because of its acute toxicity in human beings.

According to the WHO, consuming high levels of patulin may cause nausea, gastrointestinal problems and vomiting.

The COMESA Competition Commission further urged the public to exercise caution and avoid purchase of the recalled products and in situations where the products had already been purchased, consumers were asked to return them and ask for a refund or replacement.

Those in Kenya can look out for the barcode 6001240100011 on the container and look out for the following dates; (PD:22.06.2021 BB 22.06.2022) (PD 28.06.2021 BB 28.06.2022) (PD 29.06.2021 BB 29.06.2022) (PD 30.06.2021 BB 30.06.2022).

In September 2020, Pioneer Foods was forced to recall a batch of grape juice after concerns from consumers who claimed they came across pieces of glass in 330ml cans of Liqui Fruit red grape juice.

The company later allayed those fears by stating that the ‘particles’ seen were actually crystals of a naturally occurring substance in products of grapes called potassium bitartrate.

“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,” read the statement at the time.

Adding: “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.”