- Millions of pounds of food from manufacturers including Chef Boyardee, Libby's, Kidfresh and Tyson have been recalled because an unnamed bread crumb supplier did not include milk on the ingredient label, according to an article in Food Safety News.
- The first recall — of raw burgers, meatballs and other raw ready-to-eat beef products from Maid-Rite Specialty Foods — came on Thursday, soon after an ingredients company reported that bread crumbs in the products may contain undeclared milk. Because milk is an allergen that could cause serious health consequences, all products that contain it must be clearly labeled.
- The supplier that is behind the massive recall has not been identified.
Once again, a labeling error at a supplier for a small ingredient has snowballed into a massive and potentially serious recall. Similar to perpetually expanding recalls that involved General Mills flour and powdered milk, it's not clear how big this recall will get or how many products will be included. In just a few days, the number of impacted products has surged and the weight of food involved has multiplied. Since bread crumbs are a common ingredient in many products, almost anything that is breaded could be fair game for a recall.
What's potentially even more troubling is the supplier of the problematic ingredient has not been named. Although manufacturers of recalled products may be shielded by the Food and Drug Administration, not naming the source of the problem causes alarm bells for many consumers and larger manufacturers — like it did in sugar recall last year, where the source still remains unknown. Transparency is a top concern for consumers who want to know they can trust the products they have purchased. Manufacturers want to be able to earn that trust, but if they can't independently verify they had not used the potentially contaminated product, it becomes difficult.
"It becomes a nightmare trying to find out where it went, what products it went in," food safety lawyer Bill Marler told Food Dive at a conference last month during a conversation about recalls involving common ingredients where a supplier isn't named. "All of that information is available, but it's just a matter of FDA requiring companies to do it."
This kind of situation should put all ingredient manufacturers on edge. Anyone who makes bread crumbs is potentially implicated in this recall, which calls into question if not disclosing the name of the supplier is really protecting any company or manufacturing process.