Monday, January 16, 2012


This global recession has almost everyone cutting back on spending - including food companies all over the world. I am increasingly convinced that this is affecting the safety of our food, particularly of processed food.

Here's why. I have noticed what appear to be an increasing number of recalls in the U.S. for "foreign materials." This rather odd phrase refers to such things as pieces of plastic, glass, rubber and metal, most likely from processing equipment. Over the past couple of years or so, we have had them all. Here are a few recent ones in the way of illustration.

On January 14 2012, RSW Distributors, of North Carolina issued a recall for some 3,104 pounds of seasoned diced beef products destined for schools (see previous post) because of bits of conveyer belt in the meat.

On January 13, Price Chopper Supermarkets issued a recall on two sizes of its bakery’s Central Market Classics Tres Leches cakes: the manufacturer of the layers in the cake - Rich Foods - had informed them that they contained piece of plastic.

Just a month earlier, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., the large supermarket chain recalled - guess what - my favorite Sunrise Assorted Flavor Gummy Bears that were sold in the bulk in Winn-Dixie stores in Florida and Louisiana. They were afraid that bits of metal were in the gummy bears.

On October 1, Kraft Foods Global, Inc. recalled three varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces. This sounds like processing equipment again.

In September, two consumers found pieces of metal in their pureed pork, prompting a sizeable recall by K. Heeps, Inc., of Allentown, Penn. It was suspected that the pieces had broken off from the blending equipment during processing.

What I suspect is that some food processing plants, both in the U.S. and overseas, are cutting back on equipment maintenance and replacement during these hard times (see photo of mixer-agitator). As worn-out conveyer belts, blending, mixing, slicing, shredding, filleting and every other kind of food processing equipment continue to be used, the risk of contamination of processed food by those unpleasant "foreign materials" increases. Watch out and chew well before you swallow! (I had better pay more attention to that myself).

To your good health,


UPDATE: 1/22/12 - Still another recall of "foreign material" in food. Price Chopper Supermarkets is recalling its Coyote Joes Shredded Taco Cheese because of plastic fragments found inside the packaging.

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