A Fijian company that supplies the Farmer’s Style Corned Beef has admitted using chicken hearts as a flavour enhancer when the product is made (pictured).
This was revealed by the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri yesterday.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Leausa said he is meeting with a representative from the company to verify other issues.
Leausa made the comment when he was asked for an update on their investigation into the product, which the Ministry recalled last month.
“They have admitted they are using chicken hearts for a flavour enhancer,” he said.
“We have told them this does not fit the ingredients they have given (on the label) because obviously there is something else other than beef.
“They have assured us that with the other (corned beef) they make they will not do that again.”
According to Leausa, the claim from the company has left them suspicious. He explained that their main concern is the safety of members of the public.
“We want to make sure there is no long term effect that will trigger another disease (from the corned beef),” he said.
“Those are the issues and we are not rushing our decision. We are following the revised Food Bill.”
Although the company has admitted that the unusual meat is chicken, Leausa said there are no excuses for what happened.
“Maybe they did it thinking that it wasn’t harmful but I don’t know. If they had said that the chicken is for flavour advancer then that should’ve been there (on the label) and the choice is then for the consumer to make whether to buy the product or not”
Since the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa in Vailima and the hospital laboratory cannot verify the tissues, Leausa said samples are being sent to New Zealand for testing.
In the meantime, the recall notice on the product stands.
It was not possible to get a comment from the Fijian company.
According to the Farmers Style Corned Beef label under ingredients, it states beef, water, salt and sodium nitrite.
The label also says the beef is from New Zealand but it is processed and packed by a Fijian company.
The Food Act 2015, Part 2 Section 7, False descriptions of food highlights that;
(1) A person must not falsely describe food intended for sale.
(2) A person must not sell food that the person ought reasonably to know is falsely described or is likely to cause physical harm to a person who relies on that description
(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding 8,000 penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three (3) years, or both.