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Wire bristles went undetected, Kraft admits after product recall

By Ben Bouckley , 07-Oct-2011

Kraft Foods has moved to reassure customers, despite admitting that its food safety systems did not detect the potential contamination of cheese-containing products with wire bristles in 2 US factories.

The firm said it issued the voluntary recall notice last Friday, relating to three varieties of Velveeta Shells and Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups, with limited ‘best when used by’ dates.

The recall of 137,000 products was also issued via the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A Kraft Foods spokeswoman told DairyReporter.com that the company had issued the recall when it realised that products had been shipped to customers, “as a precaution due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces” after notifying the FDA.

“No other code dates or products are affected,” she added.

Routine inspection detected risk

Asked how Kraft discovered that the contamination had occurred at sites in Champaign, Illinois and Lakeville, Minnesota, the spokeswoman said:

“During a routine inspection, we discovered small, extremely thin wire bristle pieces in the manufacturing equipment used to make some flavours of Velveeta Shells and Cheese Microwaveable Cups.”

She added that Kraft “immediately began an internal investigation to determine the root cause of the issue”, and that food safety was the company’s highest priority.

But despite “very strong food safety systems”, including metal detectors and x-ray machines the spokeswoman admitted that the bristles were “too fine to be detected”.

Additional safety equipment

Quizzed as to what measures Kraft would take to ensure that such an incident did not recur, she said: “We are taking steps to prevent this type of issue from occurring again, including installing additional equipment that can detect such thin pieces of wire bristles.”

In a further statement the company said: “There have been no reports of consumer injuries and complaints. Kraft Foods is issuing this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.”

“Approximately 137,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers across the US. The affected products were not distributed in Canada.”

The company said that customers who had bought products with affected ‘best when used by’ dates (available here) should not eat them, and should return them to the retailer in question for a refund or call Kraft on +1 800 308 1841.

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