JSE-listed Tiger Brands is instituting an immediate recall of certain canned vegetable products, following the identification of defective cans.
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.
As a result, about 20-million canned vegetable products manufactured under the KOO and Hugo’s brands between May 1, 2019, and May 5 this year, are being recalled.
The recalled products represent about 9% of yearly production.
KOO canned fruit, which is produced using a different can from a different can manufacturing plant, is not impacted by this defect and does not form part of the recall.
Moreover, KOO canned pilchards are also not impacted as the cans are supplied by a different supplier.
Tiger says it has engaged with the National Consumer Commission on this matter and will, with immediate effect, roll out an appropriate consumer and customer communication plan in respect of the recall.
The recall is expected to be concluded in about 120 days.
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.
Tiger Brands says it has product recall insurance for the logistics of recalling the products.
The company’s claim under the contract with the third-party can supplier is yet to be assessed.
Tiger in May identified 18 defective cans prior to the final labelling of the finished products.
The problem was traced back to three different batches of cans which had been bought from one of the Grocery division’s key packaging suppliers. This incident was immediately reported to the packaging supplier.
Shortly after reporting this incident to the packaging supplier, Tiger was notified by the supplier that a further three batches of cans could have presented the same defect, which was a deficient side seam weld that could cause the cans to leak.
All the affected finished products manufactured using the six defective batches of cans, were not released to the trade and were placed in quarantine for further investigation, with the knowledge and agreement of the packaging supplier.
After the initial identification of the six batches containing defective cans, a full investigation of all cans sourced from this supplier was initiated.
In the early part of June, the investigation identified a further small quantity of leaking cans in the finished goods warehouse. These were unlabelled finished product and, as a result, had not yet passed through the company’s final quality control and inspection procedures.
The defective cans were traced back to a seventh batch of cans bought from the packaging supplier and, therefore, was not part of the defective batches of packaging material identified in May.
Unlike the defective cans identified in May, it was established that a portion of the cans from this seventh defective batch had been released to the trade in the form of finished product. This release to the trade was after following the normal quality assurance processes which did not yield evidence of leaking cans.
Tiger says that, despite it finding no evidence of any leaking cans in the trade or with consumers, it immediately initiated a rigorous transport and handling test and has initiated the recall.