BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — In response to the news that Salmonella was found in a package of Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter, manufacturer Kellogg Co. here has activated its sales force of several thousand employees, and engaged the help of a third-party retrieval company to rid retailers’ shelves of recalled Kellogg’s products.
“We can’t emphasize enough our disappointment and deep regret about this situation,” said David Mackay, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg’s, in a statement. “The food industry upholds certain operating standards and we are proud that we exceeded the standards in our facilities. Events of the last week suggest there was a breach in this supplier’s process that is unacceptable to Kellogg, our customers and consumers.”
Mackay referred to Kellogg's supplier Peanut Corp. of America, which manufactures peanut butter and peanut butter paste that’s distributed to food manufacturers for use in cakes, cookies, crackers, candy, cereal and ice cream.
Prior to the discovery of Salmonella in the Kellogg’s product, sources of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination were traced to a plant owned by PCA. As of last week, 474 people in 43 states were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium; nearly a quarter of those were hospitalized and the infection may have contributed to six deaths.
Several private-label items count PCA-produced peanut butter and peanut butter paste among their ingredients. Certain Hy-Vee, Food Lion and Wal-Mart bakery products, Meijer peanut butter crackers and some varieties of Kroger and Wegmans ice cream, are among the recalled items. National brands like Keebler, Famous Amos and Little Debbie have also been affected, and certain varieties of Clif and Luna bars were recently added to the recall list.
Employees at Dorothy Lane Market, Dayton, Ohio, placed about 100 personal phone calls yesterday to shoppers who purchased the bars with their loyalty cards at its Washington Square location, according to Kathy Neufarth, director of consumer affairs. DLM mines its shopper loyalty data to determine which consumers have purchased recalled items. “People seemed very grateful that we called them,” she said. “We’re also addressing letters to shoppers who we have [incorrect] phone numbers for.”
Wegmans distributed recall-related emails yesterday to its shoppers that feature related questions and answers, websites and phone numbers. “We also want to take this time to remind you of the importance of using your Shoppers Club card every time you shop and keeping your Shoppers Club information up to date in our database," the email said. "Those folks who purchased peanut butter-flavored Wegmans brand ice cream that has been recalled and used their cards are receiving phone calls from us with details about the recall.”
Food Lion also distributed emails to about 1 million customers who had previously opted to receive recall-related information. The retailer also has an electronic notification system in place to ensure that recalled items have been removed from the shelves of its stores. “Stores are sent recall instructions and required to respond back indicating compliance,” James Ball, Food Lion’s director of food safety, told SN. “We’ve also blocked all recalled products so they will not scan” at the checkout.
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