IQF chicken

DoH on warpath over mislabelled IQF chicken

Such is the level of non-compliance with legally-correct labelling of “Individually Quick Frozen (IQF)” chicken products sold across the country, the Dept of Health has found it necessary to issue a statement warning consumers that they are being duped in many instances, and that it intends taking action against these poultry miscreants.

DoH spokesman Fidel Radebe says, and contrary to regulations, the labelling of many of these products fails to inform the consumer that the IQF chicken is a composite foodstuff, consisting of chicken portions to which the processor added a brine-based mixture or solution.

The brine-based mixture, consisting of water, salt and food additives, including thickeners and flavourants, is injected into the chicken portions. In some cases, he says, the percentage of the brine-based mixture added to the chicken portions is as high as 30 percent, of which 29 percent is water.

He says this negatively affected quality from a nutritional perspective, and increased the amount of salt present. However, he emphasises that incorrect, or sometimes absent, labelling on the products was not a food safety issue.

He explains that the DoH has engaged the poultry industry over this issue through the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), to ensure that the IQF chicken portion products processed/sold, are correctly labelled as prescribed by Act 54 of 1972 and the “Regulations relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs” (No. R.146 of 1 March 2010), in respect of the proper description and QUID information required on the labels and associated advertising material.

“However, due to lack of co-operation from some processors/sellers, the Department considered it necessary to inform consumers regarding the situation in question. This is to ensure that they are in a position to make an informed decision when purchasing these products, without being misled in this regard. In instances where the information on the labels is not clear and/or suspected of being incomplete, consumers are urged to request clarification regarding the composition of the products offered for sale to them from sellers and/or shop owners.”

Radebe’s statement further urges consumers, should they encounter non-compliant products, to bring this to the attention of the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) employed by the metro and district municipalities for further investigation and remedial action, where required.

He adds that the DoH has also informed these authorities of this situation and requested them to visit processors/sellers within their areas of jurisdiction and to ensure that appropriate law enforcement steps are taken where non-compliance of labels of IQF chicken portion products is found.