Durban – Richester Foods has confirmed that an urgent investigation is underway after school children fell ill after eating its Xpop Energy Cola Fizz lollipops.
Last week, IOL reported that at least 40 learners complained of severe abdominal pains, difficulty in breathing and nausea after consuming lollipops that were purchased from other learners during their market day event.
Reaction Unit SA's Prem Balram added that the learners displayed symptoms of food poisoning after consuming the lollipops.
Balram added that the children were assessed by emergency teams at the scene.
"We were very sorry to hear that these children had fallen ill. Our hearts go out to them and their families, and we wish them all a speedy recovery,“ said Richester Foods managing director Dr Hussein Cassim.
He added that food safety is absolutely critical to Richester's business and the health of its customers remains a primary concern at all times.
“Accordingly, we are treating these claims with the seriousness and urgency that they deserve and will get to the bottom of this situation as quickly as possible. The company has already identified the product batch of the lollipops in question and these have been sent to an independent laboratory for chemical and microbiological testing,” he said.
Cassim said the laboratory intends to share preliminary results on Monday.
He added that company followed a similar process in February this year after a similar incident involving food poisoning claims regarding its Xpop Energy Red Dragon lollipops.
Cassim said after submitting its lollipops to an independent laboratory for testing, it was confirmed that the sweets were free of any bacterial contamination or causes that could relate to ill health, confirming that the lollipops were safe for consumption.
He said Richester is acting swiftly to ensure that there are no weaknesses in its quality control processes or manufacturing systems.
“We are also contacting the relevant entities and authorities to share updates on our progress. We are determined to act with complete transparency,” Cassim said.