Mar 3, 2003


Whitey Basson, managing director of Shoprite Checkers, said in a statement from Hong Kong today that he is satisfied that the frozen chickens that the group imported from Brazil to bring down local chicken prices is of excellent quality and carries the stamp of approval of the South African health authorities.

This follows an article in Sunday’s City Press accusing the company of selling chickens past its sell-by date.

“I invite any consumer who have bought a Brazilian imported chicken in a Shoprite store past the sell-by noted on the packaging to exchange it for two South African grown chickens,” Basson said. 

He also questioned why as reported in City Press the South African Poultry Producers Association had commissioned a private investigator to look at sell-by dates on Brazilian frozen chicken when they know that the locally grown frozen chickens currently available at retailers don’t carry such a date.

“Shoprite is the biggest food retailer in Africa and the South Africa’s low price leader. We do everything in our power to drive consumer prices down. In the middle of last year when local chicken prices were very high Shoprite sourced high quality frozen chickens on the international market in an effort to reduce the price of frozen chicken for South African consumers.

“Thousands of these high quality frozen chickens were brought into the country through stringent South African health regulations. The frozen chickens were duly tested, approved and certified by the South African health authorities to comply with all relevant health requirements and applicable import regulations.

“These frozen chickens carried a sell-by date unlike locally grown frozen chickens, sold widely throughout South Africa, which at this stage require no sell-by date whatsoever to be printed on their packaging.

“The City Press article incorrectly stated that a regulation relating to labelling and advertising of foodstuff require labelling. A draft regulation containing a similar provision was published last year, but has not been finalized and is not expected to be in force for at least another year. 

“Less than four percent of the frozen chickens Shoprite imported has now reached its sell-by date and the group has removed those that have not been sold from its freezers although the product is still fine for human consumption. 

“A check was done on Thursday, 27 February 2003 and no imported chickens, currently in stock at Shoprite outlets exceed its sell-by dates.”

Basson said that he is sorry that this reporting has created the impression that there was something wrong with imported Brazilian frozen chickens. 

“Our group believe strongly that these frozen chickens have driven the price of chicken down in South African. We have also offered a two for one exchange for the Brazilian frozen chicken that have pasted its sell-by date.

“I trust that those who have tried to discredit our good name will apologise to the South African consumer for applying different standards to imported frozen chickens than their own product,” he concluded.

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