Ketchup giant Heinz was forced to do damage control after a video allegedly taken in one of their factories went viral. Consumers are fuming after seeing what a few factory workers put in a machine that would eventually crank out countless bottles of ketchup to be distributed across several countries.
Heinz has done a good job of avoiding any major scandals over the years, but some decidedly gross video footage surfaced that had Heinz Egypt doing damage control. The footage aired on a state-run current affairs program, and it supposedly showed two workers putting rotten and discolored tomatoes into a metal tank used in the ketchup-making process.
Footage circulating online, purportedly taken at a facility outside Cairo, shows a man standing on open boxes of tomatoes and hurling them into a huge vat. At least one person knew that what was happening at the plant was wrong and decided to capture it on video. The company immediately hit back, saying allegations about the quality of their production line were both “completely misleading and inaccurate.”
Heinz Egypt denied the allegations of the rotten tomato usage, saying, “The recent story concerning our tomato factory in Egypt was completely misleading and inaccurate. The edited footage shows an unreal picture and neglects the processing stages, hence gives the wrong impression. It is important for everyone to know that we use only healthy tomatoes, all of which are processed using industry-best standards.”
Another statement read, “The video was deliberately edited to not show all the real stages of the tomato purification and sorting process in an attempt to falsify the facts, which represents intentional and deliberate harm to the company’s reputation that is contrary to the facts.”
Furious customers say the statement did not go far enough to dispel their fears over quality, and they called on Heinz to produce footage showing the entire process to prove the video’s inaccuracies. However, none was ever released.
A local media outlet claims the TV investigation led to a police raid at a Heinz-affiliated factory in Egypt and the seizure of two tons of tomato sauce made from rotten produce. The company attempted to alleviate concerns and claimed that the products were not intended for distribution. As a result of the police involvement, however, one of the company’s managing directors was allegedly arrested.
“As for news concerning the detainment of Kraft Heinz factory manager for the presence of damaged products on factory site, the company asserts that these products are not for distribution,” the company said. “The company has full confidence in the integrity of investigation authorities and ensures its commitment and cooperation to provide the necessary documents to disclose the truth to the public.”
Heinz said it adheres to “strict quality standards” across all of its products, with all of its products undergoing strict control measures. “We are committed to strictly applying these standards across all our factories worldwide, including Egypt,” the company said. Unfortunately for Heinz, not everyone is buying their explanations.
Ketchup seems like a food that wouldn’t have a grotesque manufacturing process, considering it is mostly tomato-based. While that might be the popular assumption, it’s not until you see ketchup’s behind-the-scenes preparation that you can really make the judgment call yourself.
The video has angered many people, who took to social media to question the quality of tomatoes used and expressed concerns over the level of hygiene maintained in the Egyptian factories. This case provides a strong argument for why we should buy products that are made in the USA.