Food Industry is Susceptible to a large number of recalls considering their Perishable nature. Also, Contamination cannot be ruled out. But recall of large quantities of Food are rare. Major reasons involve contamination or, in several cases, Regulatory action due to presence of Non-permissible substances in the Food. There are numerous recalls over the years, particularly from Global brands who have their presence all around the world. Given below, is a look into some of the infamous Food Recalls.
1. Hallmark-Westland - Meat Recall, 2008
Hallmark-Westland was the second biggest Meat Processing and Supplying Company in 2008. Having revenues over $150mn, the company was going pretty strong. All that came crashing when evidence of mistreating cows and suspect of sick cows being slaughtered came about through leaked videos. The establishment was perfectly legal with approved practices being adv0ocated in the workplace, but they were not being followed, which was brought out by an under-cover investigator from HSUS. This led to recall of a record 143mn pounds of beef, processed since 2006, a majority of which had already been consumed.
The shocking aspect here is that, the recall did not happen based on any actual contamination or spoiled meat and was rather made for mistreating animals and the fear of contamination. The Recall and the lost image amongst the public, made sure the company became extinct. Though the company only paid fines and compensation of the order of $150 before filing bankruptcy, the fines actually amounted to nearly $50bn! A lesson for companies on Ethics and moral practices and the consumer stance on such behaviour.
2. Nestle – Maggi Recall, 2015
This is one of the most famous recalls in Indian history. Probably the biggest in the history of Swiss Multinational, Nestle as well. What began as a routine check in 2014, ballooned to a larger test in the state of Uttar Pradesh and soon the media got wind of it. It was followed by the recall order issued by FSSAI in 2015. In a space of 3 months, Nestle had to recall nearly 38000 tonnes of its most famous product and shred and feed it as fuel for cement factories!
What causes it all? A 10 times(1000 times higher than permissible levels in the US!) higher concentration of lead in Maggi than the acceptable level. Rigorous critical examination on live TV debates followed and all of a sudden, Maggi had lost 80% of its market share as well as a court case to deal with before re-introducing the product. Nestle kept reasserting the fact that its product was safe but it had to contend with legal procedures as well as further tests before it could make a comeback. It shows even multinationals leave issues to spiral before reacting rather than engage in proactive measures.
But the comeback was majestic as Maggi rooted for its loyal customers, the youth and college students by making them testify their support on its comeback and has nearly reclaimed its lost market since.
3. Kellogg’s - Cereal Recall, 2010
Kellogg’s is a staple name in many households, with dozens of ready to cook food variants made available by the company. In 2010, Kellogg’s had to recall 28mn boxes of cereals of 4 variants- pop corns, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks from the market, primarily in the US, over complaints of an unusual odour and resulting nausea when exposed. The reason stated was increased exposure to a chemical named methylnaphthalene, used in packing and coating food products. The company though, has maintained the chemical as safe, being commonly used in several food products and the instance was a one-off with increased exposure.
However, USA’s FDA does not specify any safe limits for the usage of this compound and the effects of the chemical, which is a petroleum-based product. Questions linger over the safety of using such uncertain compounds though the industry continues to use them without any consideration of health and safety. The action was quick once complaints started coming in, showing the efficiency of Kellogg’s and the shares did not go down much either. However, the total cost incurred by this recall to the company is not certain.