x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Label on can of pineapple juice proves a recipe for confusion

A company banned from selling a juice product because it supposedly contained pork has denied the allegation, saying the cans listed a recipe for sweet and sour pork.

ABU DHABI // A company banned from selling a juice product because it supposedly contained pork has denied the allegation, saying the cans listed a recipe for sweet and sour pork. But the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), which regulates food in the capital, said it did not matter whether the product itself contained pork, it was also forbidden to mention pork in the labelling.

James D'Souza, the general manager for the food division at Al Maya Group, which was named as the importer of the juice, said the ingredients on the can were sugar, water and pineapple, but a recipe on the side listed the juice as a possible ingredient in a sweet and sour pork recipe. He said the company might seek legal action against publications that said its products contained pork. "We like the newspapers to mention facts rather than get excerpts which are non-factual," he said.

However, Mohammed al Reyaysa, a spokesman for ADFCA, said that even if pork was mentioned on the food label but not actually present in the ingredients, it was a violation of regulations. "For food labels, it is absolutely forbidden for pork to be on them," he said. Including such a recipe on a product was a "stupid" thing to do in a Muslim country, said Sven Mostegl, a food and catering consultant based in the capital. "But the Government people are not careful in reading and checking."

The food watchdog came under mounting criticism yesterday after a bungled recall announcement at the weekend for three drink products in which the wrong company was named as one of the culprits. Experts said the statement announcing the recall damaged the reputation of the company involved and could take years, and millions of dirhams in marketing efforts, to salvage. The ADFCA said on Saturday that it had recalled or prevented the distribution of three beverages in March.

One of the drinks, a canned mango juice, was initially said to be manufactured by Milco, which belongs to the National Food Products Company (NFPC), a beverage producer and distributor that was founded in the UAE almost 40 years ago. But Milco does not produce canned juice. "We don't have canned juices in Milco, all of them are bottled," said Smeha Fallakha, the media manager at NFPC, which also distributes Oasis and Lacnor juices. "Our quality control director has contacted ADFCA and they will be clarifying the news."

Mr Fallakha added: "I would have appreciated if they had contacted us first" before making the announcement. "You know the effect that this can have on our brand." He added that the company would not seek action beyond demanding a retraction from the ADFCA. The authority issued a statement yesterday acknowledging the error. "The Authority regretted a spelling error in a release on the recall on some products sent yesterday, which has caused a good deal of confusion," it said in a statement.

The error led to a "mix up with another company with an identical yet differently spelt name", said Mohammed al Reyaysa, the spokesman. @Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae