Malawi suspends Chibuku beer production

A HEALTH inspection at the Lilongwe plant of SABMiller’s unit has prompted Malawi to suspend Chibuku beer production and operations by Chibuku Products Limited as the country intensifies a crackdown on products deemed unfit for human consumption. Chibuku is an opaque beer product manufactured from sorghum by SABMiller in most of its African markets including Zimbabwe.

SABMiller recently developed a longer shelf variant of the product, giving it extra muscle in an African market where illegal and other traditional brews still have demand.

But in Malawi, hygienic concerns have forced the Malawi Bureau of Standards to shut down operations at Chibuku Products Limited, according to the standard board’s director-general. Chibuku Products Limited is owned by Malawi Breweries, in which SABMiller has an interest. The Malawi Bureau of Standards said it had “with immediate effect suspended production and distribution of Chibuku shake-shake opaque beer for Lilongwe plant due to non-compliance with hygiene standard”.

Chibuku Products Limited was due to make a statement on the issue by the time of writing. However, Facebook users on the company’s page queried “how such a big company” like Chibuku had failed to meet hygiene standards.

The director-general of the standards body said the plant would be re-opened once the company had addressed concerns over hygiene standards raised on its operations.

“It’s our mandate to protect the consumers and we’ve the power to seal unhygienic places. We’re receiving information almost on a daily basis of traders who are selling unfit products to the public,” the director-general of Malawi Bureau of Standards, Davlin Chokazinga, said.

Chibuku Products Limited was last year taken to task by local authorities for discharging effluent into a river in the city, with authorities saying the discharge was making the water from the river unusable. — iol

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