F.D.A. considers Kellogg packaging case closed

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced August 5 that the agency considers the recall of cereals due to faulty waxed paper liners in products manufactured by the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., to be resolved. The F.D.A. said approximately 50 consumers complained to the Kellogg Co. about an off taste and odor in the cereals and that is what prompted the recall of approximately 28 million boxes of cereal, and led to subsequent investigations by the company and the F.D.A.

After becoming aware of the problem, Kellogg isolated all suspect wax paper liner materials, conducted chemical testing on the liner materials, kept reserve samples of what they tested, and then destroyed all of the remaining suspect liner material so it could not make its way back into production, according to the F.D.A.

Once the F.D.A. learned of the problem, it launched its own investigation, inspected the manufacturing plant of the cereal, reviewed the root-cause analysis conducted by Kellogg, and independently evaluated the hazard the problem presented to consumer health. The agency concluded that the probability of serious health consequences caused by the issue was remote.

On June 25, Kellogg recalled all of the affected cereals and the F.D.A. said it has not received any additional reports of consumer complaints regarding an off taste or odor in Kellogg cereals.

In mid-July, the Kellogg Co. identified the substance that caused the recall as methylnaphthalene, a petroleum-based compound. At the time the company said methylnaphthalene is regulated in the Code of Federal Regulations and approved by the F.D.A.

While the F.D.A. may consider the case closed, the Kellogg Co. has another hurdle to clear before the issue is truly resolved. On Aug. 2, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations launched an investigation into the recall.

In an Aug. 2 letter sent to David MacKay, Kellogg’s president and chief executive officer, Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations chairman Bart Stupak asked about the company’s safety procedures, including requests for documents illustrating how it makes its cereal and what precautions it takes to keep 2-methylnaphthalene out of its products. The chairmen also asked for Kellogg’s “policies and procedures designed to ensure that its cereal and other food products do not pose a risk to human health and are not exposed to chemicals that may be hazardous to human health or about which the company does not possess adequate information to assess whether the chemicals may be hazardous to human health.”

In addition, Mr. Waxman and Mr. Stupak asked Kellogg for all internal documents relating to the company’s investigation and subsequent recall of the cereals, including any documents relating to the presence of 2-methylnaphthalene or any other chemicals in the cereals or in the cereals’ packaging.
Kellogg has until Aug. 16 to respond to the request.

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