STATEMENT: Kraft cheese recall points to larger problem with our food

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CHICAGO – Kraft Heinz is recalling more than 83,000 cases of individually-wrapped American cheese slices because it could cause people to choke, the company said Tuesday. Kraft, which has headquarters in Chicago and Pittsburgh, said it has received “several consumer complaints about finding the plastic stuck to a slice, including six complaints of consumers saying they choked or gagged in connection with the issue. No injuries or serious health issues have been reported.”

The voluntary recall involves 16 oz. Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product with an individual package UPC of 0 2100061526 1 and a “Best When Used By” date of Jan. 10, 2024 through Jan. 27, 2024. Individual packages in this recall will have an S and 72 in the manufacturing code.

Kraft blamed the problem on one wrapping machine that allowed a “thin strip” of plastic film to remain on the cheese after the wrapper is removed. “If the film sticks to the slice and is not removed, it could be unpleasant and potentially cause a gagging or choking hazard,” the company said, adding the issue has been fixed and other machines have been inspected.

In response, Teresa Murray, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog, said:

“We’ve had a slew of recalls this summer for extraneous junk found in our food. We’ve had rocks in cookies and fritters, wood fragments in cookie dough, plastic in chicken strips, bone fragments in meat, metal in crackers and more.

“This is such an unforced error. It’s sloppiness, and it’s clear equipment and food products aren’t being inspected as well as they should be before it’s available for us to buy in grocery stores or restaurants.

“The presence of foreign material in food is one of the leading reasons for food recalls. We had 25 of these recalls in 2022, according to our “Food for Thought” analysis of government regulator databases. And the databases don’t even include all of the voluntary recalls that are handled before regulators start investigating. We hope the U.S Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture make this and other problems that make our food unsafe a priority.”

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