Castel Malawi on Monday were grilled by the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) for over complaints from some of its customers about defects noted in some of its products.
At a public hearing in Lilongwe, CFTC officials, led by Chief Executive Officer Charlotte Malonda, presented the complaints to a team of commissioners led by Madalitso Mmeta.
The company was later given an opportunity to respond to the concerns.
Castel was asked to explain its position on the quality of Sobo Orange Squash which was found on the market in January this year and detection of foreign objects in some of its products.
CFTC Director of Consumer Welfare and Education, Lewis Kulisewa, said when they followed up with Sobo on quality, they were told that four batches were affected by low preservatives that were put in the product.
He said they were further told that about 36,000 bottles were affected.
“The Company managed to recall 12,000 bottles. This means about 24,000 bottles were consumed within the period,” Kulisewa said.
He further said a notice on the problem was announced 15 days after the defect was confirmed, and said that might have led to only 12,000 bottles being taken back to the company.
In his response, Castel Malawi Managing Director, Gilles Leclerc, who said the product was not supposed to be released to the market, said what happened was not deliberate.
“The product was not supposed to be released to the market. However, when it was released, it was alright. The problem of preservatives just reduced shelf-life. We did not do that deliberately. There was a problem with our internal controls,” he said.
Another issue the company was asked to respond to is that of foreign objects which were found in some of the company’s drinks. Kulisewa told the Commissioners tests conducted by Malawi Bureau of Standards confirmed that the product was really contaminated and likely to cause harm.
In his response, Leclerc told the commission that they have put in place measures to avoid what happened.
“Castel has made huge investments in ensuring that that our products are of good quality. We have equipment that can be used to detect foreign objects at different stages of production,” Leclerc said.
One of the commissioners, Mike Mlombwa, appealed to the company to be careful.
“People like your products. But they are very worried. You have to be very careful,” Mlombwa said.
Apart from Castel Malawi, other companies which appeared before the commission were People’s Trading Centre (PTC) and Central Poultry.
Multi-Choice Malawi, which was one of the companies summoned, asked for an adjournment of the hearing and it was granted.
Mmeta told all companies that appeared before the commission that they will know the outcome of the hearing later. According to Malonda the outcome will be ready in the first two weeks of August.