retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fortune has a story about how Washington State-based CRF Frozen Foods still has not figured out what caused a "massive" outbreak that "was connected to eight patients with Listeria-related illnesses, two of whom died. The company ended up recalling over 350 frozen food products that were sold under 42 different brand names at various retailers, including Trader Joe’s and Costco. The company subsequently laid off 300 employees at its Pasco (Washington) facility."

Nevertheless, CRF apparently has gotten past the let's-figure-out-why-it-happened phase, and now has moved into the let's-get-certified-to-reopen-our-plant phase.

The story notes that "it’s not unusual for the source of a Listeria outbreak to go unfound. The pathogen is quite common and it doesn’t take much to affect a consumer." And, it says, getting re-certified by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is "a long process that involves sanitizing, testing, and ordering new equipment, all at the company’s expense. It could end up costing tens of millions of dollars..."
KC's View:
The best thing that CRF has going for it is the fact that nobody knows its name ... just the names of the brands that it manufactures. This will make it a little more bulletproof than it ordinarily might be ... or should be, in my opinion.

I don;t care how much cleaning up it does. As long as they don't know the source of the contamination, I don't want to eat their food.

It just goes to show you that despite all the steps that have been made to improve the food safety profile of the supply chain, there always will be bad actors that can throw doubt on the entire industry. Which is something about which everyone in the business should be concerned.