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Pilchards temporarily canned from national school nutrition menu

26 February 2020 - 18:16 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Various brands of tinned Pilchards have been pulled from retailers' shelves - and now from school menus.
Various brands of tinned Pilchards have been pulled from retailers' shelves - and now from school menus.
Image: supplied

The department of basic education has suspended the serving of canned pilchards as part of the national school nutrition menu across the country.

The recall of canned pilchards in tomato sauce in 400g tins sold under the Shoprite, Checkers and OK house brands was announced by manufacturer West Point Processors on Saturday. This was due to a "canning deficiency" that could make them "unfit for consumption".

The recall was extended to pilchards in chilli sauce as well — sold by retailers countrywide under 12 brands, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) announced on Monday night.

Following this announcement, the education department "has instructed all provinces to communicate with their respective suppliers to stop supplying these products as part the national school nutrition programme (NSNP) menu with immediate effect," said spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the canned fish was consumed in all schools offering the nutrition programme - to more than 9.2-million pupils on school days.

Mhlanga said the department had advised provinces to:

  • suspend serving pilchards with immediate effect;
  • check all pilchards stock against the official list of products that were recalled; and
  • replace pilchards with other sources of protein from approved menus in the meantime.

"To date the department is pleased that no challenges have been encountered and provinces will be supported as we continue to monitor the situation," he said.

Neo Sediti, director of the department's nutrition programme, said they were working with provinces to ensure that food used in the programme was of good quality and a high nutritional standard.

"To date the department has not yet received any negative reports from provinces. We are at this stage trying to proactively stay ahead of any potential challenges and protect the profile, credibility and integrity of the NSNP," said Sediti.

"The department of basic education would like to reassure parents, learners and members of the public that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that no learner is compromised," added Mhlanga.