Searching for Peanut Butter Recall Answers

With the ongoing and ever growing list of products on the Peanut Butter Recall list, I had to check our Oneupweb office vending machine to ensure that none of our snack products were involved.

With all of the timely product recalls from the store shelves and warehouses, I was thinking that there could be a possible delay in recalling vending machine inventories. With a few currently ill people in our office, I had to make sure that the candy wasn’t the culprit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have linked the salmonella contamination to one of Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) facilities in Blakely, Georgia. The FDA is also currently investigating a peanut grower, concerned that the salmonella contamination might have occurred before the peanuts reached the plant to be processed. The latest statistics report that six deaths have been reported, and 475 people in 43 states have been sickened, due to the salmonella bacteria since the outbreak.

The FDA is recommending that if consumers can’t find their items on the recall list, that they should call the toll-free number on the package, or visit the manufacturer’s web site. And if you cannot determine whether a product is safe, the FDA recommends that it not be eaten.

Reputation and crisis management are increasingly important due to the instantaneous results of our online technologies. While investigating our candy products I was also searching to see how the corporations involved are handling the crisis.

Oneupweb Office Vending Machine Inventory (Peanut or Peanut Butter products):

  • Snickers & Twix candy bars (Mars)
  • Butterfinger candy bar (Nestle)
  • Reese’s Whips and Payday candy bars (Hersheys)
  • Nutty Bars (Little Debbie / McKee Foods and Kellogg Company)

Although there are many food companies using peanut butter in their ingredients that have not been placed on the recall list, many have acted in advance to stand behind their brands and company names.

I found the following information concerning our Snickers and Twix candy bars on the Mars website in the news & events section. It took a little digging as I couldn’t find any information in their “Search site” option, or on a simple Google search for “Mars Peanut Butter Recall”, “Snickers recall”, or “Twix recall”

A Mars press release dated January 19, 2009 states:

“The following Mars Snackfood US products contain peanut butter, none of which is sourced from the companies being investigated by the FDA:”

    • M&M’S® Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies

 

    • SNICKERS® Brand

 

    • SNICKERS® Brand Ice Cream

 

    • TWIX® Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

 

    • KUDOS® Peanut Butter Granola Bars

 

    • Ethel M Chocolates® and ethel’s® chocolate lounge

 

Concerned about the Butterfinger candy bar made by Nestle, I performed an extensive search in Google and the Nestle web site but couldn’t find any information referencing their products or of the recall. I wasn’t feeling all that certain about the Butterfinger recall status, so I probably won’t be eating one in the near future. But as far as I can tell, my Butterfinger bar isn’t on a recall list, but I believe that Nestle should have taken pointers from the other companies and taken the extra steps to express that point for anyone who might be concerned, and to have that information readily available with minimal searching.

To find the status on the Reese’s Whips and the Payday candy bars from Hershey, it required some heavy investigation and searching. I couldn’t locate anything on a Google search for “Hershey’s recall”, “Reese’s peanut butter recall”, or “Payday candy bar recall”. I went to the Hershey’s website and entered “peanut butter recall” in the Search Hershey’s Websites search option, and found the below information (which revealed nothing about the recall):

I didn’t feel like waiting for one of my co-workers to sample one of these products to see if they were safe, so I kept digging for answers. Finally I found a press release from Hershey that expressed that “The Hershey Company Does Not Purchase Peanut Butter, Peanuts or Peanut Products from Peanut Corporation of America” and “All Hershey’s and Reese’s candies are safe to consume.” I now feel better about having these products in our vending machine, but I wonder if most online searchers would go through this many steps to find answers.

Finally my vending machine product safety search led to my investigation of Little Debbie – Nutty Bars. These were a childhood favorite and I wanted ensure that such a wonderful product in our vending machine was not tainted. I was easily able to find that the producers of Little Debbie products, McKee Food Corporation and the Kellogg Company were performing a voluntary recall of two of their products.

On the Little Debbie homepage, there was an “IMPORTANT NEWS” section detailing which products were being recalled, and a statement that my Nutty Bars and all other Little Debbie products were safe. The McKee and Kellogg Companies were equally as informative, with the recall information right on the homepage.

From my findings, I can conduce that the products in the Oneupweb vending machine that contain peanuts or peanut butter are safe for consumption, except for the Butterfinger bar, which is still in question. While they might not be the healthiest options for lunch, these products probably won’t make you sick. I also found that the extra steps taken by most of these companies show that they are truly concerned about what their consumers and audience think about their brands and their products when they are searching for answers.

For more information on crisis management, please read the Oneupweb White Paper: Principles of Crisis Management in a Viral Age.