Saturday, January 26, 2013


We have had all kinds of unpleasant contaminants turning up in our food. But I don't recall any week such as the past one for bits of metal causing food recalls. That's factory-produced food for you. You sometimes end up with the machinery as well! And I bet the U.S. is not the only country where this is occurring.

The most recent incident: the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Advance Pierre Foods, of Oklahoma is recalling some 1,200 pounds of fried chicken breasts because they may contain small pieces of metal. The products were distributed in Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Before that, we had Annie's Homegrown Inc., of Berkeley, Califoria (down the road from where I live)recalling many of their frozen pizzas because of suspected tiny metal fragments in the crust. And, before that we had BBU Inc. (the parent of Bimbo Bakeries) recalling multiple Thomas', Publix, Sara Lee and Weight Watchers fresh bagels because of pieces of metal being found.

How does this happen? Well, a variety of ways. In the case of the recalled chicken breasts, the company said that the problem occurred when a small metal hand tool fell into a grinder. Apparently the problem was discovered by the company's metal detectors but somehow or other, the chicken was packaged and shipped before the company could begin diverting the product (figure that one out if you can).

In the case of Annie's, they seem to have been a victim of their pizza crust supplier's bad equipment maintenance: there was a defective metal mesh screen at the flour mill, pieces of which ended up in the flour and from there in the pizza crust and in the pizza.

As for Bimbo Bakeries, all the information given is that the presence of fragments of metal was caused by "a faulty manufacturing part." Another case of deferred maintenance?

Again, as I have said before in discussing such "foreign objects" in our food, I bet much of this is due to financially struggling companies trying to cut their costs by not doing regular maintenance of their processing equipment.

To your good health,


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