When CDC alerted the public on June 14th to an outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks breakfast cereal, the agency was coy as to who was the actual manufacturer of the contaminated product.
Today, with its weekly release of Warning Letters, FDA may have answered the question.
On July 26, 2018, FDA issued a formal Warning Letter to Kerry Inc., headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin after an inspection of the company’s cereal-production facility in Gridley, IL revealed a manufacturing environment in which Salmonella had made itself at home.
The Warning Letter listed several serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, including:
- The Gridley facility’s hazard analysis did not include contamination of ready-to-eat cereal with environmental pathogens such as Salmonella, even though this type of contamination has occurred in the past
- Gridley repeated found Salmonella in its production environment, but took no corrective action
- Gridley recorded 81 positive Salmonella environmental samples and 32 positive Salmonella vector samples between September 29, 2016 and May 16, 2018
- Gridley did not implement sanitation or preventive control procedures upon finding Salmonella in its manufacturing environment
- Gridley did not implement the company’s own written environmental monitoring program procedures.
The Warning Letter does not refer to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, or to any other brand or variety of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal by name, nor does it make reference to the Salmonella outbreak linked to Honey Smacks.
This Salmonella-laced production plant manufactures ready-to-eat cereals and “rice crisps intended for pet food“, according to the Warning Letter. One of the Salmonella-positive environmental samples found as a result of the FDA inspection was from the “…bottom of the roll-up door between [the] cereal coating room and [the] processing room for rice crisps intended for pet food.”
In its initial Outbreak Investigation release, CDC said, “Thirty (77%) of 39 people interviewed reported eating cold cereal. In interviews, 14 people specifically reported eating Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal.”
The Salmonella problem at Gridley dates back almost two full years, to September 2016. It is very likely that other brands of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal manufactured in this facility during the last two years also harbor Salmonella. Some pet foods may be at risk as well.
Where are the other recalls?