Thursday, July 22, 2010


Why is that product recall is becoming endemic in a country like the US where policies, infrastructure facilities and experienced technical personnel are considered one of the best in the world? Could it be due to the skewed legal system that punishes even minor defaults with high financial damages to the industry? Or are the US consumers so fragile and have so low an immunity, any small contamination can tell on their "fragile" health? Other wise how else one can explain the huge recall episodes involving 3491 products since september last year? One can only the unenviable condition of the food industry there and food processing is becoming one of the most hazardous businesses in that country.

"Kellogg said on Friday it noticed "an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell" from the box liners of its popular Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks product. The company said the chance of serious illness from the smell was low, but the products could cause nausea and diarrhea among sensitive consumers. Only U.S. products marked with the letters "KN" following the "better if used before" date notice were affected, the company said. No other products are a part of this recall, Kellogg added. U.S. regulators are under fire this year following high-profile recalls involving products for children. Johnson & Johnson recalled 40 widely used nonprescription products for children and infants, such as Tylenol and Motrin, earlier this year after Food and Drug Administration inspectors found filthy equipment and contaminated ingredients at a Pennsylvania factory. "When foods that are popular among kids are being recalled in large volumes, it is clear that our food safety system is not working," U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro said in an email. DeLauro, a Democrat, chairs a House of Representatives subcommittee that funds the FDA and frequently has criticized its response to dangerous food and medicines. The lawmaker said 28 million boxes of Kellogg cereal were being recalled after about 20 people, including five who reported nausea and vomiting, complained about the "waxy" smell and flavor coming from the box liners".

The waxy smell has since been attributed to the hydrocarbon methylnaphthalene, emanating from the lining used inside the carton. Consequences of this chemical on the health of children are currently not known. That it can happen to the world's largest cereal maker is a testimony to the deteriorating safety control regime presently endowed with the responsibility. The food safety problem has become so serious that even the industry is asking for a more focused, separate agency that could shoulder the safety overseeing program because the existing FDA is too much involved in drug related activities with very little time to devote for food industry. Facilities inspection which ought to be an area of priority is grossly neglected under the present regime and this often lulls many industry players to neglect this area.


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