News Feature | February 23, 2015

Packaging Error Prompts 32 State Recall

By Laurel Maloy, contributing writer, Food Online

Food Recall Crackers

One of the largest food producers in the U.S. has been forced to recall more than 62,000 packages of snack crackers due to a packaging error

WhiteWave Foods, the producer of some of the most recognized brands in the food supply chain, has issued a Class I recall for an undeclared allergen. The maker of Silk, International Delight, and Land O Lakes, issued the recall on February 20, 2015. A packaging error at its Broomfield, CO plant has forced the recall of somewhere around 62,000 boxes of Horizon Cheddar Sandwich Crackers.

The outer package is labeled as a cheddar sandwich cracker, while the inner packages actually contain peanut butter sandwich crackers. It may seem like the difference would be obvious, but busy consumers could easily be putting these packages into children’s lunches as we speak, not aware of the potential for disaster.

Packaging errors and mislabeling are common occurrences in the food industry. Luckily, they can be avoided. This is preventable by exercising aggressive due diligence. Due diligence, in this particular case, would involve double checking that the inner and outer packaging set up for production are correct for the production run. A quality check at the end of the first packaging run could have prevented the entire recall. It is entirely possible, that with the proper oversight in place, production could have been halted in order to correct the problem — well before 62,000 packages made it into transit and into the marketplace.

The best food defense or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan is not effective without regular validation and monitoring. In fact, there is a requirement for both of these elements to be included in any food-defense plan, on a set schedule, with the responsible parties or positions specified, in writing.  In a facility producing products with and without one of the top eight allergens, it would be critical for a very-aggressive, food-defense plan and HACCP plan to be in place. This assertive plan would require procedures to ensure correct packaging and labeling.

Consumers with known food allergens put a large amount of trust in food manufacturers to ensure the packaging and labels match the product. In short, a brand that does not measure up to their expectations, even if it only happens once, can suffer damage, as demonstrated by this recall. Recalls, such as this, also illustrate the reasoning behind strict, food-safety legislation. Now may be the time to examine your own food-defense or HACCP plan, not only to prevent mislabeling or packaging, but to prevent a financially-damaging recall of your own.