ZAMBEEF ADDRESSES MARKET CONCERNS ON IMPORTED BEEF PRODUCTS
Zambeef Products has moved to address market concerns over imported beef products, reiterating its commitment to providing high-quality, safe food for its customers.
The company noted reports in some Zambian newspapers that certain of its imported beef products contain aromatic aldehydes or formaldehyde.
While aromatic aldehydes and formaldehyde are found naturally in most food products, excessive levels can be harmful to humans.
Accordingly, on learning of these reports, the board of directors of Zambeef, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, immediately removed all imported beef products from Zambeef’s retail outlets as a precautionary measure, and no imported beef products are now being offered for sale by the company. In addition, the company has co-operated fully with the Ministry of Health and other regulatory authorities to bring a swift conclusion to this matter.
Following the receipt of tests commissioned by the government, the Minister of Health, the Hon. Joseph Kasonde, stated that the tests indicated the presence of formaldehyde in samples of Zambeef’s imported beef products and that the Ministry of Health is working on establishing the point of contamination.
The board takes food safety issues extremely seriously and Zambeef will never knowingly offer for sale any products which could be hazardous to the health of its customers. As a consequence, the company will be undertaking a comprehensive review of internal food transport, handling and storage procedures as well as conducting extensive investigative dialogue with officials from the importing countries. It will also continue to co-operate with the government and relevant authorities to identify the level and potential source of any contamination.
The company has made clear to consumers, via local media sources, that Zambeef only imports meat products from internationally recognised meat companies in countries with globally recognised, traceability protocols in place, normally the United kingdom, Republic of Ireland or the United States of America, and that its imported beef products are accompanied by certification from all the required regulatory authorities in these countries, as applicable. The embargo on imported beef products remains in place until further notice.
The sale of imported beef products accounted for approximately 4 percent of the company’s annual turnover in 2012. Nevertheless, the company recognises that the negative publicity created by this matter could impact other product lines and, in doing so, Zambeef’s profitability for the current financial year. These effects are difficult to quantify in the short term, but the board will provide a further update in its pre-close statement in late September.
Zambeef Chief Executive Officer Francis Grogan said: “Clearly it has been a difficult period in light of the reports concerning the company’s imported beef products and we are co-operating fully with the government to draw a line under the matter. We are committed to ensuring all products sold by Zambeef are of the highest quality and safe for our consumers, which is why we will continue to suspend the sale of imported beef products until the Ministry of Health and Zambeef have fully resolved the matter.
“We believe that Zambeef remains well placed to build on its position as one of the leading food producers in Sub-Saharan Africa.”