Kellogg Company has recalled 28 million boxes of breakfast cereal in the United States over fears an unknown chemical that has tainted its packaging could cause diarrhoea and vomitting.
The company told FoodProductionDaily.com that it believes an unidentified wax-like substance has migrated from the inner packing into four kinds of the cereals marketed largely for children. Kellogg said the threat of serious health problems from contaminated packaging was small but warned “sensitive” consumers to avoid eating the cereals.
“Our chemistry team is working to isolate the exact substance,” said spokeswoman Adaire Putnam. “At this time, we know it’s a wax-like compound that can produce an uncharacteristic off-taste and smell.”
Kellogg said the liners had first been used in March this year and since then the company has been contacted by around 20 consumers complaining of stale, metallic and soap-like smells and tastes. Some five people were said to have reported nausea and vomiting, said reports in US media.
It is understood the company began contacting its commercial customers last Wednesday and raised the alarm with the public on Friday over a total of 1.7 million cases of its Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks breakfast cereals. The 28 million packets have been distributed nationwide with best before dates ranging from 26 March, 2011, to 22 June, 2011.
All the tainted packages were produced at the firm’s facility in Omaha, Nebraska. The company has “destroyed the inventory in its control” and was working with its customers to withdraw the product from circulation, Putnam added.
Low potential for serious health problems
Only products with the letters ‘KN’ following the Better If Used Before Date have been included in the recall. The company stressed that cereals with a ‘KM’ designation were not included and that no products in Canada were affected. No other types of its cereals have been tainted, said the food giant.
A company statement said: “While the potential for serious health problems is low, some consumers are sensitive to the uncharacteristic off-flavour and smell and should not eat the recalled products because of possible temporary symptoms, including nausea and diarrhoea.”
"We apologise to our consumers and our customers and are working diligently to ensure that the affected products are rapidly removed from the marketplace," said David Mackay, company president and chief executive officer.