Sun | Aug 20, 2017

MegaMart pulls recalled curry from shelves

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 1:00 AMTameka Gordon
Bottles of Oriental's curry powder.

MegaMart Wholesale Club has moved to rid its shelves of curry powder produced by Oriental Packing Company Inc and recalled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), confirming that the products are sold in Jamaica.

MegaMart marketing manager Omar Azan said on Thursday that the grocery chain continues to sell Oriental's other products but has dropped the curry powder, which was supplied by a local distributor.

Oriental produces its spices in the United States, where it is based.

Azan said that he would have to conduct checks in order to determine the name of the local distributor.

"We were aware of the recall. Some time ago, we took all of them (the curry powder) off the shelves, and we are working with all the suppliers to make sure that none is around," Azan said.

He said that the chain's "local supplier" is also aware of the recall and the need to remove the product.

Last week, Oriental's owner, Derrick Lue and his distribution partner, Ocho Rios Miami Inc, told Gleaner Business that their distribution was concentrated in the US and that they did not sell the curry to Jamaica.

After news of the second recall, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and Jamaica Customs Agency both said that they found no evidence of the curry powder locally. In an update on Thursday, both agencies said that further checks on the market yielded the same result.

Lue said that his company once did business directly with MegaMart.

"The Oriental brand was bought in Miami and brought into Jamaica directly by MegaMart, approximately three to four years ago, and we have not sold to them since that time," Lue said via email.

LEAD CONTAMINATION

He said, the products sold to the Jamaican retailer then by Oriental would not have been affected "since it was bought long before the recall". However, MegaMart has said that it is currently supplied through a local distributor.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) in Connecticut, in a letter dated January 3, 2017, advised of the second recall issued by the FDA on December 7, 2016, "due to curry powder that may be contaminated with lead".

Curry sold under the brands Oriental Hot Curry Powder in 50 pounds (bulk), Ocho Rios Jamaican Nice Mild and Spicy Hot Curry Powder in (4 oz), and Ocho Rios Mid Curry Powder (5 lbs) were being pulled.

Last August, GraceKennedy Limited announced the recall of batches of its curry products packaged on its behalf by Oriental and distributed within the US, Bermuda, and The Bahamas. Concerns of lead contamination also forced that recall.

Lue has pushed back on the recall, saying taht his tests show lead traces below what he said is the FDA's "allowed" limits of one part per million.

Lead can accumulate in the body over time and may lead to serious and sometimes permanent health conditions.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com