retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that “Basic Food Flavors Inc., the Las Vegas company at the center of a recall of more than 100 food products, continued to make and distribute food ingredients for about a month after it learned the bacteria salmonella was present at its processing facility, according to a Food and Drug Administration report.”

According to the story, Basic Food Flavors found out it had a salmonella problem on January 21, but continued distributing the suspect ingredients until February 15, the point at which the FDA began inspecting its facilities. “The FDA last week recommended companies recall products, from chips to soups, that contain a commonly used additive made by Basic Food Flavors that tested positive for salmonella,” the Journal writes. “The additive is mixed into foods to give them a meaty flavor.”

More than 100 products have been recalled because of concerns about salmonella contamination linked to Basic Food Flavors’ products, though no illnesses have been linked to the recalled items.
KC's View:
I’m not sure what the precise punishment ought to be in cases like these, but I’m damned sure it ought to be a lot harsher for companies that know they have a problem and then ignore it - no matter what the reason. I have no idea if this is a Peanut Corp. of America-type situation, where they allegedly decided not to clean the feces off the equipment because they were more concerned about the bottom line than food safety, but that is at least one of the possibilities.

Heads on pikes? Maybe. But willful negligence, especially when related to the public’s safety - and that can erode overall confidence in the safety of the food supply - is a very serious matter and ought to be treated as such.