HARARE, September 7 (The Source) – Zambia’s standards bureau has pulled Lyons’ Peanut Butter from the market after the product was found to contain excessive levels of aflatoxins which have the potential to cause cancer.
On Wednesday, the Harare-based firm insisted the peanut butter, a household product in Zimbabwe, was safe for consumption and conforms to international standards.
Aflatoxins are produced by fungi that are commonly found in agricultural crops such as maize, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. High levels of aflatoxins can cause acute toxicity, and potentially death, in animals as well as in humans.
They are caused by extreme heat and drought before harvest while moist, humid storage conditions increase susceptibility.
Several Zambia newspapers on Wednesday reported that over 11,000 one litre containers of the peanut butter had been seized from various shops in the Zambian capital.
“The Bureau will conduct country wide surveillance inspections and withdraw the product from the market until such a time that the manufacturer is able to demonstrate that the product is compliant with the Zambian Standard ZS723 for peanut butter,” Hazel Zulu, the Bureau’s head of Marketing is quoted as saying by several Zambian media outlets.
Zulu said the peanut butter would only be allowed back on Zambia shop shelves after meeting local standards.
Lyons is a subsidiary of Dairibord Holdings Limited.
Dairibord spokesperson Imelda Shoko denied the report, and declared that the peanut butter was safe for human consumption.
The peanut butter has been sold in Zimbabwe and Zambia for the past 25 years, she said.
“Lyons Peanut Butter aflatoxin tests are conducted and certified by an independent laboratory which conforms to COMESA proficiency program on control of aflatoxins to which Zambia is a member,” said Shoko in a statement she sent to The Source.
She did not respond directly to questions about the action by the Zambian standards bureau.
However, her statement expressed “concern on offensive social media messages purported to be coming from the Zambia Bureau of Standards.”