Problem cascades through the food system: The U.S. public got a dramatic example this week of how a problem with one ingredient can cascade through the entire food system, causing incalculable financial hardship to companies and serious illness or death to consumers. By Friday afternoon, five companies had been forced to recall more than 300 tons of food because an unidentified ingredient supplier provided bread crumbs that potentially contained milk, a fact that had not been declared to the companies. Because it is an allergen, the presence of milk must be declared and included on the label of any product containing those bread crumbs.

Maid-Rite Specialty Foods, Water Lilies Food Inc., Aldon Food Corp., Advance Pierre Foods Inc. and Pork King Sausage Inc. are the companies that so far have been forced to recall their products after the announcement by their ingredient supplier. More announcements are likely to follow.

Dunmore, Pa.-based Maid-Rite is recalling about 174,000 pounds of various beef products, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday. That announcement was followed by notice that Astoria, N.Y.-based Water Lilies Food Inc. recalled some 4,335 pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken products for the same reason, Schwenksville, Penn.-based Aldon Food Corp. recalled about 18,570 pounds of chicken salad, and Portland, Maine-based Advance Pierre Foods Inc. recalled some 54,699 pounds of chicken products. Late Friday FSIS announced that New York, N.Y.-based Pork King was recalling more than 44,000 pounds of raw sausage links.

The food products were shipped to institutional locations throughout the United States and Canada (Maid-Rite); retail locations in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia (Water Lilies); distributors in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania (Aldon); foodservice locations in California, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas; and wholesale and institutional locations in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia (Pork King).

So far there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions because of consumption of these products. The presence of allergens is cause for a Class I recall, meaning the products pose a serious health risk to those with an allergy to milk. When someone with a serious allergy eats a food product containing that ingredient, anaphylactic shock and even death can result. For specific products affected, click here: Maid-Rite, Water LilliesAldonAdvance Pierre and Pork King.

PERSONNEL SECURITY

Ammonia leak injures two Tyson workers: An anhydrous ammonia leak injured two contract workers at the Tyson Food plant in Hutchinson, Kan., on Thursday morning and prompted evacuation of the plant. The plant uses anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant. Most of these incidents are because of equipment failure or human error, but it is important for food service managers to remember that ammonia can be considered a “chemical weapon” in the hands of the wrong people, and food refrigeration units are a source of ammonia. In this case, one of the workers was treated at the scene and released while the other was transported to the hospital by ambulance, reports the Hutchinson News. The call to 911 about the leak came in at 8:48 a.m., and perimeter was set up around the plant. The leak was quickly contained. The plant, which produces pepperoni, precooked hamburger, sausage crumbles and meatballs, employs several hundred people. READ MORE