Food giant recalls expired cakes in latest scandal
QUEENSLAND franchisor Retail Food Group says it will voluntarily recall out of date food from its outlets after weekend reports it was deliberately selling cakes and other products months after their use-by date.
RFG said it had received written approval from suppliers before instructing Michel's Patisserie franchisees to ignore best before dates by between two and six months.
In a statement before the ASX opened this morning, the company said it followed strict food safety standards and would co-operate with any investigation.
"RFG has taken voluntary action and is in the process of withdrawing any products which had received approved date extensions from our suppliers," it said.
"RFG works closely with its preferred supplier network to ensure high quality products are delivered ready for sale to franchise stores."
RFG shares dropped 6.67 per cent from 22.5c to 21c in the first two hours of trade after the announcement this morning.
RFG said it had requested shelf-life extensions to products from "less than one per cent of its supplier network" in the past 18 months.
"During the last financial year, RFG worked with more than 1000 Australian suppliers to deliver over 15,000 products through its vast distribution network around Australia," it said.
"These extensions related to about 0.25 per cent of RFG's annual spend with its supplier network.
"RFG audits its suppliers and distributors regularly and will remove any supplier from its network if they are deemed to have contravened relevant food safety regulations.
"RFG has not been contacted by regulators regarding any concerns with our food safety standards and if it were then it would fully co-operate in the best interests of consumers."
The scandal is the latest in more than a year of trouble for Queensland company, which was the centrepiece of a scathing joint parliamentary report into the franchise sector earlier this year.
The report recommended past and present bosses of franchisor Retail Food Group be investigated for the possibility of insider trading, tax avoidance, short selling and more.
It found RFG had devastated the franchising industry through an 'unjust' business model that bled franchisees dry in the name of shareholder profit and had a business model that relied on exploiting franchisees.
RFG shares were worth more than $7 at the start of 2017 and were still valued at $4.40 in December that year, when it was first accused of running franchisees into the ground with exorbitant fees.