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Archive for the ‘Food Recalls’ Category

“Gluten Free” Update: Baker Behind Bars

Paul Seelig, the owner of Great Specialty Products, has been sentenced to 9-11 years in prison for falsely representing to his customers that his bread was gluten free.  According to testimony from one of his former employees, Mr. Seelig also told customers that his products were “homemade,” even though he apparently just repackaged baked goods he bought at various stores.

The takeaway message (other than the obvious: follow the law) is that customers rely on a company’s representations, so it is important for those representations to be correct, documented, and verifiable.  Even if Seelig had truthfully represented that he tested his products weekly, he failed to produce any records confirming this at trial.  “Get it in writing” is as true now as it ever was; do you think your customers expect (and pay for) any less?

Most Ironic Food Recall of 2011: Toxic Waste Candy Recalled (Again) for Being Too Toxic

On March 26, the makers of Toxic Waste candy recalled their “Toxic Waste® Short Circuits™ Bubble Gum” for excessive lead content.  This is the second Toxic Waste candy product recalled in 2011 for excessive lead levels. 

The gum was distributed between January 4, 2011 and March 18, 2011.  This raises the question of the extent to which the recalled product may already have been consumed.  Time is of the essence for food recalls, and managing a food recall is easier for both the manfacturer and consumer when a product is recalled sooner than later.

As with the January 2011 recall of the company”s “nuclear sludge” candy, the recalled candy at issue here was imported.  Although non-chocolate candy accounted for only 7.3 percent of FDA food import violations from 1998 to 2004, it is difficult to find specific data regarding the scope of these violations.  However, the FDA provides information about how it monitors and regulates food importation.  Additionally, while candy manufacturers are not at this time required to develop and implement HACCP plans, companies may want to consider doing so sooner than later to manage their risk of food recalls.

Pet Food Recalls, Redux

March 13, 2011 1 comment

The latest reminder that pet food processing companies need to manage their risk of food recalls: pig ear dog chews have been recalled for potential salmonella contamination.  This presents a health risk not only to pets, but also to your customers (and their kids, even if they do not eat dog biscuits).

Pet food recalls, like other food recalls, present a recurring problem

Smart consumers should already know they should wash their hands after handling pet food and prevent their children from eating it.  However, should pet food processing companies include a notice on their package to remind people that pet food is only for pets?  Or is this type of warning in the “where does it end?” category?

KGO-TV Report: Wireless Technology Helping Keep Food Safe (via intelleflex)

KGO recently reported on using RFID to maintain cold chain integrity and trace produce from the farm to the retailer.   RFID will likely continue to grow in popularity for food safety risk management.

Now you can see Intelleflex in action.  KGO-TV, the San Francisco ABC affiliate, addressed how wireless RFID technology from Intelleflex is helping to reduce cold chain spoilage.  KGO’s technology news reporter Richard Hart featured Intelleflex in his story about the perishable food and pharmaceutical cold chain.  You can watch the video here.  Richard describes the cost of spoilage and how temperature monitoring can improve cold chain operations … Read More

via intelleflex

Food Recall Risk Management: Plan Ahead to Minimize Litigation Risks

February 3, 2011 3 comments

The latest reminder that restaurants and grocers can benefit from implementing food recall risk management plans: two customers of Safeway grocery stores filed a class-action lawsuit contending that store should have used Safeway Club Card contact information to notify consumers sooner about recalled food they purchased.

The lawsuit does not contend that the plaintiffs suffered any illness.  However, plaintiffs apparently request that Safeway implement a system to notify Club Card customers of food recalls sooner.  It also apparently requests that Safeway refund its customers the cost of the recalled food purchased.  (Note: plaintiffs did not need to sue Safeway to get their money backThe company’s website notes that customers may return recalled products to their local store for a full refund.)

Just two days ago, I noted that some stores were still selling contaminated food after a recall, and that they could lower their liability risks by signing up for free recall notifications.  (Here, apparently the plaintiffs purchased their food before it was recalled; at this time I am not aware of any allegation that Safeway sold recalled food.)  However, Costco took the next step, and at least two years ago, it started telephoning its members about food recalls for previously-purchased items.

Although no known authority (under California or federal law) requires a store to use loyalty card contact information to notify customers of recalls by phone or email, as the capability to warn customers about recalled food expands, so will customers’ expectations.  Why wait until your company is a defendant facing trial in a court of law (or the court of public opinion) to try and minimize the risk of litigation?

Thankfully, the lawsuit against Safeway does not claim that anyone suffered injury, but one in six Americans suffers food poisoning every year, and about 3,000 die from it.  The more your company can show it implemented best practices to minimize the risk of personal injury, the less likely a jury (or the public) will find it did something wrong.

My Company Only Manufactures Pet Food; Is a (Costly) Recall Necessary Due to a Risk to People?

February 2, 2011 1 comment

Pet food manufacturers need to plan proactively to prevent food recalls, too.  Even if people are not on the dog food diet, they may be exposed to salmonella by handling contaminated pet food products.  The moral of the story for (pet) food processing companies: although people should wash their hands more often, it’s often less expensive to produce a pathogen-free product than to incur expenses for a costly recall after discovering contamination.

Why are Some Stores Still Selling Contaminated Food a Week After It’s been Recalled?

February 1, 2011 1 comment

Why are some stores still selling a contaminated foodweek after it’s been recalled?  Perhaps they have not signed up for FDA email notifications re: product recalls.  This fast and free service will help your food processing company, restaurant, or retail store stay up-to-date about foods they use, serve, or sell and lower the risk of, e.g., selling salsa containing cilantro that may be contaminated with salmonella.