The news being circulated on the social media earlier in the week has not only been described as malicious, but also a calculated attempt to demarket the Erisco Tomato brand by competitors.
Described by a dealer in Ogun State, Mrs. Nonye Ifeanyichukwu as an unfounded allegation, saying that Erisco Tomato has been an age long Nigerian brand with high quality.
Recall that a lady who claims to be an analyst, Chioma Egodi, had earlier alleged that Erisco tomato contains excessive sugar, as such unsafe for consumption, which Erisco Foods has since refuted through a press statement.
When contacted, the Chief Executive Officer of Erisco Foods, Chief Eric Umeofia declined speaking about the issue, stressing that the appropriate authorities are handling the matter. He also added that the company had issued a statement before now even as he maintained that the group will address the press at the appropriate time.
The earlier statement issued reads in part, “Considering that Erisco Foods Limited has built a reputation as a credible organization committed to due process and the good of humanity, we have decided to bring the said publication to the attention of relevant authorities. We wish to reiterate that Erisco Foods Limited is solely committed to the production of healthy tomato products including other products that have the full regulatory stamp and approval of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
“While we recognise the rights of our consumers to make genuine observations about our products, we want to thank our esteemed customers for their continued patronage of Erisco Foods Limited. Having built our reputation on healthy and quality products which have earned us both local and international awards, including National Productivity Order of Merit Award, we will take all necessary actions against any malicious attack on our reputation.”
In his response, Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), noted that Consumers have the prerogative of providing their opinions and feedback about any products they consume.
“You cannot compel them to send it through any particular channel. They are entitled to provide a review and if there is a negative review of a product, then we will put it out there. Consumers also have the responsibility to state facts and separate it from their opinions. So, if a consumer makes inflammatory statements that are untrue about the product, the manufacturer of that product has the right to go after the consumer to enforce their right for defamation or damage to their product.
“Erisco has complied with the Commission’s summons and they have appeared at the Commission and provided substantial information to the Commission and we are analyzing that right now, but the focus now is that the Commission is engaging the Police Force with respect to the fact that this is a regulatory issue and the Commission is addressing it in a regulatory manner and not a criminal issue in which case, the Police Force should release the woman. Releasing her does not relieve her of any potential liability that Erisco might want to pursue against her but it is not for her to be prosecuted for expressing an opinion which turns out to be a negative review of Erisco’s product. That is our position.
“There is no such thing like banning Erisco’s products. We in FCCPC have not taken any step and the only other person that could do that is NAFDAC and they have not done that either”, Irukera said.
In his comment, Harold Okolie who spoke from Asaba stated that the woman ought to have lodged the first complaint with Erisco Foods instead of going to the social media with unverified allegations.
Okolie pointed out that Mrs. Egodi could have petitioned NAFDAC, SON or FCCPC to register her findings as social media does not have any solution to whatever matter.
Also, a reliable source who pleaded for anonymity pointed out that the product she claimed is killing people should have been reported to the appropriate authorities with the production date and batch number.
According to the source, the lady is from the same place as the manufacturer of a different brand of tomato.
“They have connived to kill our products because our products are better than theirs. We are not bothered and at the appropriate time, the truth will come out. We have suffered for over 40 years for our products to come out to be what they are today, we will not allow anyone to destroy our brand.
“She is just evil that they sent to destroy our brand and this is why the company wants to pursue the case to a logical conclusion, as the lady wants to render over 2,000 people in the company’s payroll jobless. She must prove how many people the products have killed.
“She was paid to do the evil job, our company’s products are perfect and we follow due process in manufacturing them. Nigerian importers of tomato paste are not happy that our products are not allowing them to sell what they want”, the source claimed.
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