Distribution and Packaging:
One Source of Food Recall
NOTE: For all USDA recalls and relevant information that pertains to consumer food products, please visit USDA's "Current Recalls and Alerts" page, viewable here
We’re all captivated by the allure of grocery stores; some are swayed by enticing deals, others are attracted to colorful displays and packaging, and all of us are (hopefully) reassured that the grocer has some variation of the motto “a commitment to quality assurance”.
But unfortunately, grocery stores are nothing more than warehouses full of consumer products. These products (for grocery shelves and storage) are purchased with profit margins and potential discounts in mind, and not necessarily your personal health. Often, the realization that the shelves may be stocked with unhealthy or dangerous products comes too late. The failure can often be traced directly to the manufacturer or distributor of the product, and the truth is that “Grocery Store X” often has little to no accountability for the original problem.
To draw attention to this issue, check out two of the recent food recalls by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service from the past year. You may recognize the recalled products, and some of them are available today in your local grocery store. Food safety is an important issue, and consumer food safety (that is, safety of the foods that are available in grocery chains) is an especially sensitive issue. If you’re a distributor or seller of like-products, be sure that you’re accounting for safety, and safeguard your distribution/production areas with all ‘deterrent devices’ and food safety measures. Temperature Monitoring is one small example of a ‘necessary deterrent’ that can prevent bacterial outbreak in your product, and is one particular strategy you should be employing to keep yourself off this short list.
February 8, 2013: Foreign Materials
February 8, 2013: AdvancedPierre Foods: The recall is for 15,000+ pounds of frozen, cooked country fried steak products. The cause is the presence of foreign materials (plastic pieces) in the food. To quote FSIS, “The firm alerted FSIS after the company received complaints from two customers who each received an oral injury upon eating the product. The problem was a result of a piece of plastic bin being introduced into the production process and then being broken into smaller pieces.”
- These tainted products were produced on December 21, 2012, and were distributed to Wal-Mart stores in the following states:
Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana ,North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming.
One of the Tainted Products
August 14, 2012: E. Coli Outbreak
Dale T. Smith and Sons Meat Packing: The recall is for a variety of weight combinations for “Boneless Beef” and other cuts that were produced on August 7, 2012. To quote FSIS “The problem was discovered through lab testing conducted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which confirmed positive results for E. Coli 0157: H7, and may have occurred as a result of a refrigeration malfunction.”
Though the August outbreak was limited to one specific retailer in Glendale, CA, it shows that producers and distributors alike must catch these problems before the products are packaged and distributed. From the time frame, an entire week had passed before this possible refrigeration failure was discovered (along with the realization that food had been tainted). By using monitoring devices in a commercial refrigerator, you can be alerted to a malfunction instantly, rather than retroactively. Refrigeration units, particularly at the top of the consumer chain, must be outfitted with robust temperature monitoring systems that have fail-safe mechanisms.
Our own Cellular Device (a true deterrent) can transmit temperature readings during a power outage or temporary malfunction, and production of those foods can then be halted before the food can begin the journey to consumers. Check out our products page for more information on the Cellular Edition.