New Zealand Food Safety is investigating following a further recall of about 8000 packets of Woolworths raw sugar from Countdown supermarkets nationwide overnight.
New Zealand Sugar Company Ltd provided incorrect information to supermarkets which resulted in them releasing the sugar to consumers in error, says NZFS deputy director general Vincent Arbuckle.
"The affected product was subject to a previous recall because of the potential for low level lead contamination.
"Our experts have assessed the risk to the be low based on the levels of lead detected in the sugar and the potential exposure for consumers.
"The product was initially recalled on November 4. Two further recalls followed in November as a result of Woolworths NZ and Foodstuffs South Island releasing the product in error.
"While the risk from consuming this sugar is low, we have concerns about the way this recall has unfolded.
"We expect businesses to run recalls smoothly in the interests of food safety, and that has clearly not happened here. To that end we have started an investigation to identify any issues within the businesses’ recall process. As part of this we are asking all companies involved for copies of their records.
"The errors by the companies involved are isolated incidents and do not reflect on the food recall system as a whole which has served consumers well over time.
"As part of continual improvement, we are working on a series of further regulatory requirements around food recalls. These will strengthen recall systems and improve traceability.
"However, these are big companies and we need to ensure their recall systems remain effective so that these types of incidents do not recur."
The affected products are:
• Woolworths 500g Raw Sugar Lot Codes 21270 - 21306
• Woolworths 1kg Raw Sugar Lot Codes 21270 - 21306
"If anyone has these products at home they should return them to the place of purchase for a refund.
"We consider the risk to be low, but if anyone has health concerns, they should consult their doctor."