Mozambican company Yaafico Industrial, which makes the Frozy brand of soft drinks, has rejected claims by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) that the Frozy drinks do not meet the standards laid down by the Malawian authorities.
The MBS banned the selling and importation of Frozy saying the drinks contain high levels of citric acid and the food preservative sodium benzoate.
But according to media reports, Yaafico Industrial has claimed that its drinks conforms to regional standards and are certified by, and frequently analysed by, the National Food and Water Hygiene Laboratory (LNHAA) of the Mozambican Health Ministry.
The company also claimed that in the last analysis, in August, and in all previous ones, the levels of acidity detected were in conformity with the standards demanded by the LNHAA, and throughout the southern African region.
The company said it could show some documents indicating that Frozy has a certificate of quality issued by the Mozambican Ministry of Industry and Trade and collaborates regularly with the National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE).
Yaafico also protested that it had never been asked by the Malawian authorities about the quality of its products. The company accused the MBS of bad faith, since it should have notified the Mozambican authorities about the matter, under the trade protocol of SADC (Southern African Development Community).
The company says it intends to appeal against the MBS decision, in order to “restore the truth” about its products.
When announcing the ban, MBS said it inspected samples of Frozy and found that the level of citric acid in the drinks ranged from 2,240 to 5,376 mg/kg compared with a permitted maximum of 3,000 mg/kg.
Following the ban, MBS director Davlin Chokazinga said the bureau will conduct sweeping exercises through its market surveillance activities in due course to ensure that the product is removed from the market.
He said anyone found stocking, distributing or selling the product after the announcement shall be penalized and prosecuted in accordance with section 44 of the MBS Act (Cap 51:02).
Malawians have also been asked to desist from buying and consuming the product forthwith until the MBS verifies through further conformance assessments the shortfalls of the drink.