Death/Illness/Hospitalization Count: 0/135/34
States Affected: 36
Date of First Reported Illness: March 3, 2018
Date of Recall: June 14, 2018
Date Outbreak Investigation Concluded: September 26, 2018
The site responsible for Kellogg’s 2018 cereal recall has closed its doors. Kerry Inc., Kellogg’s third party manufacturer of the tainted cereal, closed the Gridley, IL plant in December 2018. According to a local source, the closure was due to a decrease in demand for cereal that is produced there. The drop in demand does not come as a shock; the cereal was previously linked to 135 cases of Salmonella Mbandaka spanning 36 states. Lab results later confirmed the presence of the strain found in tainted cereal samples matched those in unopened samples.
The recall on Honey Smacks cereal was announced by the Kellogg Company on June 14, 2018. About a month later, both Kerry and General Mills announced recalls of additional cereal brands that were manufactured on shared equipment and within the same time-frame as the Honey Smacks. On the same day as the recall, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) began taking environmental swab samples within the facility. Three of the sample sites were positive for salmonella: the bottom of a roll-up door between two processing rooms, a dryer on a line, and plastic on a roll-up door between a warehouse and processing room. The official FDA investigation reports there were 113 positive hits of salmonella from the plant’s internal testing between September 29, 2016 and May 16, 2018. The positive findings did not result in Kerry Inc. taking effective action in reducing or eliminating contamination. The investigation also found several violations of cGMPs (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) and HARPC (Hazards Analysis & Risk-Based Preventive Control):
The hazard analysis did not identify salmonella contamination after the “kill step” as a possible hazard required by 21 CFR 117.130 (a)(1)
Failure to identify and implement a preventive control
Failure to identify and implement facility sanitation controls adequately
Failure to implement written corrective actions to be taken if preventative controls are not effective 21 CFR 117:150 (a)(1)(d)
Did not conduct investigations after repeated positive findings
In conclusion, I think this is a significant case in food safety history. It is a textbook example of the consequences faced when HARPC is not followed; this oversight could have been caught in a verification or review.
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