Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Salmonella & our food supply

Seems like almost every day an alert pops into my mailbox with a food recall. Some days I get four or five. More and more I'm seeing problems with Salmonella. This is a nasty, nasty critter. I've read that many of our so-called stomach viruses and flu's are nothing more than very slight touches of Salmonella poisoning. We eat a bit of minutely tainted meat or salad, get sick (but not real sick) and chalk it up to a flu.

It stands to reason that as we produce most of our foods in factories that we're going to run into hygiene problems. Think about cleaning your own kitchen and how difficult it is to get into those little cracks, to change out the sponges or to get that bit of splatter behind the stove. Imagine a huge mega-production line with machines and people who, let's face it, are just doing a job. They're not thinking about little Sally or Jim who's going to be eating that food. They're punching a time clock and thinking about what they're going to do when they get off work.

I'm aware that there are umpteen kinds of cleanings that go on and that it's in the best interest of companies to avoid food contamination problems. So what does that say about the rising number of problems with our food supply? Is it getting beyond them?

The latest and greatest Salmonella problem that prompted this blog is the one from the Hershey Company (below). How do they know that seven bottles might have a problem? They produce millions (probably) of bottles yet somehow they know that seven of these might be contaminated with Salmonella? If they caught the Salmonella on a production line and shut it down it seems like they'd have the bottles. Maybe they caught it and were able to account for all but seven of the bottles?

I suppose when I have a few moments, just out of curiosity, I'm going to have to do a little bit of looking into food production a bit more in-depth. Right now I have more questions - and concerns - about the foods I'm buying.

The Hershey Company Recalls Seven Bottles of Reese's Shell Topping Due To Possible Health Risk

Contact:Stephanie Moritz717-534-7641

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Hershey, PA -- November 14, 2006 -- The Hershey Company today announced that it is recalling 7 (seven), 7.25-ounce bottles of REESE'S Shell Topping manufactured in Canada on October 27, 2006, due to possible contamination with Salmonella.
The 7 (seven), 7.25 ounce bottles of REESE'S Shell Topping have the code 30MXB printed on the back of the bottle below the cap. The UPC/Bar Code is 346010. No other Hershey's shell toppings or other Hershey confectionery items are involved in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The product in question was available for purchase only in the state of Michigan after November 5, 2006.

Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of a food contaminated with Salmonella may cause symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis. These symptoms could be serious and life-threatening in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

The recall is the result of routine manufacturing quality checks by the company during which an externally sourced ingredient tested positive for Salmonella. The company has ceased production and distribution of this product, and is working with FDA.

Consumers who have purchased the item in question should contact Hershey Consumer Relations at 1-800-468-1714.

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