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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Hong Kong affected by international recall over glass-tainted Stella Artois beer

Hotline for customers in the city set up while local industry members say incident is ‘unbelievable’ in the lead-up to the Hong Kong Sevens rugby event

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 12:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 9:17am

The Hong Kong branch of Belgian beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched a recall of more than 50,000 bottles of Stella Artois beer in the city, which might have been tainted with particles of glass during manufacturing.

The recall, which comes as bar operators in the city are gearing up for the annual Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament from Friday to Sunday, will definitely affect their businesses, according to a local trade delegate. 

The measure was taken as the local branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev followed a recall in the US and Canada involving two batches of 330-millilitre bottles with best-before dates on September 15, 2018 (package code: 55, time stamp: 23:00-23:59) and September 16, 2018 (package code: 55, time stamp: 0:00-18:00).

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety urged the public not to consume beer from the two affected batches, saying it might contain glass particles. 

A centre spokesman said that according to the information provided by the importer, a total of 2,160 cartons, each containing 24 bottles, of the affected batches had been brought into Hong Kong, and all of them had been distributed.

Traders should also stop using or selling bottles from the affected batches immediately, he added.

The spokesman said the centre had noticed when Canadian authorities issued a recall of several batches of the product. The centre then immediately followed up with major local importers and retailers. 

A beer industry insider told the Post there could be many reasons that glass could have entered the bottles. He said manufacturers would need to find out why the detectors on the production lines had failed to spot the particles.

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He said most of the affected bottles were likely to still be in the operators’ storerooms and waiting to be put out after current stocks were sold.

A spokesman from the local branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev said a customer hotline will be available for enquiries at +852 2923 8666. All affected customers in the city will be compensated.

Chin Chun-wing, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Bar and Club Association, said the incident was “unbelievable” and would damage the brand’s image.

He said the brand was not the top-selling one but still enjoyed some popularity in Hong Kong.

“They’ve prepared well for the Hong Kong Sevens with stocks ordered and stacked up. But now you’re asking them to pull these out in the recall. It’s disturbing,” Chin said.