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Kellogg reveals name of chemical in tainted packaging

By Rory Harrington, 13-Jul-2010

Related topics: Packaging, Kellogg

Kellogg Company has finally named the chemical at the centre of its US tainted packaging incident that led to the recall of 28 million boxes of cereal last month.

The food giant told FoodProductionDaily.com today that elevated levels of a number of hydrocarbons, including methylnaphthalene were responsible for the off-taste and smells in four types of breakfast cereals. The substance is normally present in paraffin wax and film linings.

However, the company did not supply information relating to the exact levels of the chemical that were responsible for sickening a number of consumers – only saying they were not present in harmful levels.

“Kellogg Company has concluded its investigation into the off smells present in the package liners in some of its cereals,” said company spokeswoman Adaire Putnam. “Working with external experts in medicine, toxicology, public health, chemistry and food safety, we identified elevated levels of hydrocarbons, including methyl naphthalene, normally found in the paraffin wax and film in the liners.”

This specific wax is commonly used as a protective coating for foods including cheese, raw fruits and vegetables, and are approved by the FDA, she said.

“We have verified that the elevated levels of hydrocarbons are not present at harmful levels,” added Putnam. “We are working with our supplier to ensure that this situation does not happen again.”

The incident began on 23 June when Kellogg started contacting its commercial customers, with the public being warned two days later The company subsequently recalled a total of 1.7 million cases of its Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks breakfast cereals. The 28 million packets had 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.