Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Ministry of Health orders energy drink off the shelves

The Ministry of Health’s Chief Health Officer in the Department of Public Health, Matsapa Phegelo, has confirmed that his Ministry discovered the Kombucha energy drink to contain alcohol.

Non-alcoholic drinks must contain alcohol levels below 0.5 percent.

Phegelo said the ministry makes random checks on food items on the market and, in this case, they took the Kombucha energy drink produced in Botswana by Nature Care for testing.

“The result of the test showed that the drink, which was supposed to contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol level, actually contained between 2 to 7 percent alcohol. We then wrote to the producer on the 21st of June telling them to stop the production and the selling of the product,” said Phegelo.

She said that the producer never stopped selling the product but promised to undertake correctional measures, such as pasteurizing the product so that it does not ferment and increase the alcohol content.

She said, apart from alcohol, the product contained live yeast and caffeine and one could actually see it foaming while in storage.

“We will not recommend it as useful therefore it has to be taken off the shelves immediately. We have written to the council to ensure that the product is off the shelves,” said Phegelo.

She also said the producer alleged that they get fine feedback from the public as people feel fine (alert and awake) with the product.

“But I do not know what that good is all about which they feel,” said Phegelo. “Yes any healthy person would be worried about the alcoholic content unless declared. People might think we are getting in the way but we have children to protect and we also we have people who do not want to take alcohol,” said Phegelo.

She said the labeling of the product should not be misleading or confusing but should indicate the true nature of the food and shall be specific and generic.

Phegelo said it is incumbent on the manufacturer to take the product to the National Food Control Laboratory for testing before the product is in the market.

Osego Garebamono, attorney for Nature Care, said that they had been advised about the results, in addition to labeling and alcohol content.

“We have sent out two samples of the drink for testing, one to South Africa and the other one here in Botswana,” said Garebamono. “Because of the concern, we found it reasonable to remove the product from the market in our shops (Gaborone and Francistown). So it is not available anymore but the product will not be sold until the issue is resolved with the ministry.” Garebamono said they want to come up with an acceptable product for the health of the public.

“We will make sure it does not ferment and that the labeling includes all ingredients,” he said.

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