* The Commission has since invoked Article 33 (2) of the COMESA Competition Regulations
* For Coca-Cola South Africa to issue a compulsory product recall notice to Coca-Cola to the Common Market
* Not a single country in the Common Market were issued with the voluntary recall of some batches of Appletiser
By Duncan Mlanjira
The COMESA Competition Commission has alerted Malawi’s Competition & Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) and the Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) that the Appletiser drink manufactured by Coca-Cola South Africa contains mycotoxin above the permitted limit of 50 parts per billion for human foodstuff.
According to Wikipedia, mycotoxin — also known as patulin — is any toxic substance produced by a fungus and that the number of mycotoxins patient’s common signs include chronic fatigue, rashes, and depression.
Less common symptoms include dementia, Parkinson’s and cancer. It is produced by a variety of molds, in particular Aspergillus, Penecillium and Byssochlamys — most commonly found in rotting apples.
Wikipedia further says the amount of patulin in apple products is generally viewed as a measure of the quality of the apples used in production. In addition, patulin has been found in other foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables. Its presence is highly regulated.
In its letter to CFTC and CAMA Executive Directors, Apoche Itimu and John Kapito respectively, COMESA Competition Commission said it became aware of this development through its market observatory that Coca-Cola South Africa initiated on September 23, 2021 through a voluntary recall of some batches of Appletiser done.
“The Commission established that whereas Appletiser is imported and distributed into the COMESA, no such recall was made or announced in the Common Market to the best of our knowledge.
“With this regard to Malawi, the Commission was able to verify the presence of the said product through the purchase it undertook on 6th October, 2021,” says the letter from the Commission’s director and CEO Willard Mwemba.
The COMESA Commission added that it requested Coca-Cola South Africa on October 12, 2021 to recall the affected products from the Common Market and to issue a notice to the public indicating its distributors and related dealers to enable consumers identify and return the products.
Coca-Cola South Africa was also mandated to inform the public of any undertaking to replace the products or refund the price of the products and that it should also desist from exporting to the Common Market “until such a time when the defect is corrected and the general public is informed accordingly”.
The statement also assured the CFTC and CAMA that it sent a reminder letter on November 1 to Coca-Cola South Africa to comply with the conditions set though it did not receive any response.
“Considering that the recalled products are unsafe and that Coca-Cola South Africa has not taken steps to remove them from the Common Market, the Commission is hereby invoking Article 33 (2) of the COMESA Competition Regulations to issue a compulsory product recall notice to Coca-Cola.
“The company has 10 days [as from issue of the invoking the Regulation on November 11] to disclose to the general public the nature of defect or a dangerous characteristic of the goods identified in the notice in the countries where the affected Appletiser was distributed in the Common Market.
It should also disclose circumstances in which the use of the goods is dangerous and the procedures for disposing of the affected batch.
It should also indicate measures undertaken by Coca-Cola South Africa to replace the goods and to refund to a person whom the products were supplied — whether by Coca-Cola itself or by another person — the price of the goods within the 10 days.
“The recalled goods are considered unsafe and the supply of such to the consumers in the Common Market before the defect is corrected is a violation of Arricle 31 of the Regulations,” Mwemba said.
The general public is encouraged to engage the Commission for any more information or clarification by contact Mwemba on +275 1 772 466 firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can also engage Steven Kamukama, manager for consumer welfare and advocacy division on email@example.com