Patties rides out the storm on berries recall, $1.5 million lost
Patties Foods yesterday announced that the recall of its Nanna’s frozen berries, following a hepatitis scare, has cost it $1.5 million of lost profit, or about 10 per cent of what was anticipated as this year’s annual profit figure.
The company expects its net profit for the 2015 financial year will be approximately $15 million, down from its $16.7 million profit for 2014.
Additionally, Patties has foreshadowed a number of asset writedowns as a direct result of the recall.
However, Patties as a food manufacturer remains confident that its other savoury pastry brands performed solidly across 2015 despite rising meat prices. Patties Foods is the owner of Four’N Twenty meat pies, Herbert Adams and other Australian frozen food brands.
The company says it is now heavily investing in Four’N Twenty and recently made headlines when it came together with Pizza Hut to make a pie pizza.
The announcement alleviates any worries that investors may have had following the food recall with the sharemarket not showing any significant shift in the share price of the company following the announcement. The directors say that they are waiting for the full year results before deciding the dividend policy this year.
Patties has completed testing recalled berries
Along with making the financial announcements, Patties took the opportunity to say the company has now completed its microbiological and viral testing on its recalled berries and that they found no Hepatitis A Virus or E.coli in their samples.
The company says its 1kg Mixed Berry product is still not available for purchase as the company is looking for a new supplier. All its other berry products are now back on shelves after what Patties described as “rigorous testing’’ both of recalled products and products that were not involved in the recall.
Patties wants to find an Australian grower to form deep relationship with Patties
Patties says it would like to support a locally sourced berry range but Managing Director and CEO, Steven Chaur said this cannot happen straight away.
“It could take some time to develop the infrastructure and crops, given long seasonal lead times,” said Mr Chaur.
“In the meantime, the company will continue to source berries from China, Chile and other global regions where producers specialise in frozen berry production,” he said.
Victorian Department of Health investigation
Patties says it is still working closely with the Victorian Department of Health. The DOH is continuing to investigate the Hepatitis A outbreak which it had connected with some of Patties’ frozen berry products.
The food manufacturer will be releasing its final profits for the 2015 financial year on 24 August 2015.
FSANZ release risk assessment on imported frozen berries
Late last week Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) released its own risk assessment into imported ready-to-eat frozen berries in wake of the recall.
The report found that imported ready-to-eat frozen-berries do not pose a medium-high public health risk of containing Hepatitis A if the berries were handled in accordance with Good Agriculture Practice and Good Hygienic Practices.
However, as a result of the FSANZ assessment, from the 19 May 2015, berry importers must be able to prove that their produce comes from a farm with good agricultural practices. They must also be able to show that good hygiene practices were always used.
The FSANZ assessment also highlighted the following:
- Hepatitis A contamination risk can best be kept to a minimum through good agricultural and hygiene practices
- Outbreaks of Hepatitis A in ready-to-eat berries have been minimal across the world.
- Although Hepatitis A infection is not pleasant, it is also not life-threatening and those who contract the virus normally recover fully after a few weeks.
- Hepatitis A cannot grow and spread amongst food
In the report FSANZ discussed research they conducted in 2010 when Hepatitis A appeared in semi-dried tomatoes. From this previous work they found that routine testing of produce for Hepatitis A would not be particularly helpful. This is because levels can be so low that they cannot be detected. It is therefore possible the virus might be present but inactive or that the virus might be some parts of a sample batch of berries but not necessarily in the whole product or batch.