Tuna recall an error in Health’s paperwork

Seve Sinei Fili - a Assistant CEO of the Ministry of Health

Seve Sinei Fili – an Assistant CEO of the Ministry of Health

Lagi Keresoma

APIA: THURSDAY 28 MARCH 2013: Faulty paperwork by Ministry of Health led to a recall notice of cans of Chef’s Choice tuna being recorded as having been issued in March this year.

In fact the recall notice was issued ‘in the middle of last year.’

“Cans of the tuna were taken off shop shelves from March last year,” said Seve Sinei Fili, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACEO) and  Principal Environmental Health Officer of the Ministry of Health.

Complaints received that tuna chunks from the brand had a bad smell, tasted too salty and the juice in at least one can was foamy.

Ministry of Health staff collected 80 cans of Chef’s Choice tuna and had them tested.

Three were found to be contaminated.

They were sent for further tests in New Zealand.

“This was in March 2012,” Seve said.

“The test came back positive and an order for recall was issued around June –July last year,” said Seve.

The cans that were found to be contaminated were packed for Ah Liki Wholesalers by a company in Vietnam.

The Chef’s Choice tuna now sold on shelves are from different suppliers.

Seve assured the public the cans of the brand now on sale are safe.

Asked what had happened to cause the mistake in the dates contained in the recall notice, the ACEO of Health declined to go into detail.

He only said the recall notice that was widely reported in the media yesterday was “official communication” between the Ministry of Health and Ah Liki company and not meant for anyone else.

Yesterday a staff member at Ah Liki’s said on the telephone that no one was available to comment on the matter.

“Those cans, we removed long ago – last year,” she added.

Yesterday, an Ah Liki Wholesale outlet, Farmer Joe’s supermarket had no Chef’s Choice tuna on its shelves.

Today Ah Liki’s general manager Alex Brunt said through his receptionist that he was not available, but would telephone at a later stage.

But the recall notice that sparked all the fuss had “URGENT” stamped on it.

It was dated 21st March 2013.

It was addressed to the General Manger of Ah Liki Wholesale and General Store and copied to the Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai.

It says at the start of the notice, “Further to analysis results of chef’s choice chunk received by the Ministry of Health from your company on Wednesday 20 March 2013 ….”

A scan of the letter is copied below.

tuna letter scan