Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kraft Recalls Macaroni & Cheese

On Wednesday, March 18th 2015 Kraft Foods announced it's recalling 242,000 boxes of it's Macaroni & Cheese because some boxes may contain pieces of metal. Kraft Foods Group Inc. says it is aware of eight incidents of consumers finding metal in the boxes, but hasn’t been informed of any injuries

Be far it from me to speak on nutritional values or can say I had an unparalleled employee experience working for Kraft for over 33 years. Nor that's I'm a big supporter of huge corporations. However one thing I can vigorously defend is their quality control program.

The negative comments I see on the internet under this news story on various sites come from the kind of ignorance I've come to expect.

If anything, quality control was a pain in the ass with all it's oversight. First off all ingredients that come into receiving from both other companies and from other Kraft plants were taken to the lab and inspected before being released into production. This after spot checking other companies facilities under certification for use by Kraft. Most people don't realize there are a dozens of quality checks made before a product is released from the warehouse.

The lab procedures involves checking the product as it proceeds from one step to the next (catch it before it becomes a larger problem). In addition there are metal detectors, machines that inspect the labels and if it's glass for chips or bird wings (a 5 point laser check) and so forth. Product is usually held for a couple of days until the lab has a final look over the samples collected both on the line and the final product stored in the warehouse. We had quality control people looking over our shoulder who visited each line several times a shift collecting samples. This was to verify all the quality checks we cooks, filler and packer operators had performed every 10 minutes or less where within standard. I can't tell you the number of times product was unnecessarily put on hold or trashed just because it fell below the specs or was near code date. Most of it would be fine to eat otherwise.

Many of the products we made went through dozens of pumps, thousands of feet of specially coupled stainless steel piping, holding tanks and countless other equipment. Any which could cause contamination via bacteria or some mechanical problem (oil, metal, etc.). There is even bacteria analysis performed after each cleaning of the pumps, pipes and tanks before any product was allowed to flow into them.

On top of all of this the companies we supplied sent their own people in to check up on us. Believe me when I say they were unmerciful. If something didn't meet what was stated in their contract they would be the first to reject that product. Things like ph levels, ingredient content quantity or any other reason they could find to question what we produced. The more a outside inspector could find the greater value it was to their careers.

I'm not saying the food couldn't be better. Nor saying what ingredients could be improved upon. What I am saying without reservation is there's nothing more that can be done to assure neither bacteria nor product contamination is not of the utmost priority to these companies. This cost them both money and reputation. Something none of them can afford.

While technology has vastly improved, when you're dealing with 200-300+ pounds a minute, no one can assure every ounce, jar or box will be absolutely perfect. Therefore it annoys me when ignorant comments are made against people who are trying their best at the jobs they do. Why am I not surprised?

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