World Kitchen Spotty Rice

Does someone have to die before a supermarket does a recall?

3 weeks ago we found this...

Imagine our surprise when we found black spots and streaks through 5 ready-to-serve dishes we had in our fridge. 

ALL OF THEM WERE CONTAMINATED!

Also, this was across two different types of curries. It wasn’t limited to a single batch, but at least two different batches.

We had purchased them the week before, but they were still well and truly within their use-by dates.

So we returned them to the store only to discover…

Their NEW stock was also corrupted

On the shelf we found new stock that already had spots forming in the rice, as well as stock that was leaking. 

The leaking stock means that not only can the sauce get out, but bacteria can get in. The use-by date is now meaningless. 

The store manager did the right thing and removed the stock from the shelves, and was scheduled to be returned to head office.

And then the unimaginable happened...

We returned to the same store to find new stock on the shelf…with the same problems.

But wait there was more...

We then checked not only our local supermarket (Kellyville) but also Baulkham Hills and Winston Hills.

We found the same problem at all 3 stores. This was not a store problem, but a supplier problem.

And that would logically imply more stores would be impacted. We reported this to the supermarket head office, we spoke to their customer complaints department, sent them photos, and then…

On their web site they promise

We have developed stringent standards and undertake independent quality testing on an ongoing basis to ensure all suppliers meet our own strict specifications. On rare occasions, questions regarding a product's quality, safety or errors in packaging or shipment do arise in the retail world. XXXX has a plan to swiftly and effectively remove such products from the store. Any product that does not meet the government's and our own standards in any of these areas will be efficiently removed from sale and we will notify customers via a Product Recall aler

Which, to me, would imply that they would quickly do something about 3 sites with confirmed contamination in the product.

Let the BS begin...

Instead we were fed the official lines…”we take all complaints seriously”, “it has been escalated”, “all complaints are normally resolved within 10 days.”

Wait, 10 days when they know that multiple stores are selling contaminated rice and leaking curries.

And they would keep me informed…except that’s all they ever kept on saying … “we will keep you informed.”

We continued to visit stores and continued to report the faulty items we found.

A partial win...

By the end of the week, two product lines were withdrawn from sale. We had found problems in 4, and 2 of them were removed from the shelves.

But...

I was in the city and checked one of the city stores.

Yes, the two items were removed, but the larger container was still available.

AND WAS LEAKING EVERYWHERE!

I informed the store manager and asked him to report it to the store manager. I emailed head office.

And then an anonymous birdy spoke to me

Being in the hospitality industry means that you slowly build up an interesting group of friends. In this case, one of them is an equipment supplier who happened to know the manufacturer.

I tried to call the manufacturer to update them on the problem. It was 4pm and it appeared that no-one was in the office apart from one desk jockey. I left a message.

I spoke to the manufacturer

Two hours later the MD of the manufacturer contacted me. Finally I thought I was getting somewhere. I was promised that it was being looked into.

So now I had promises from both the supermarket and manufacturer that this was a critical issue and was being dealt with as a matter of urgency. 

Surely stores would be contacted to check their stock! There may even be more items pulled from the shelves. By their promise they would even do a product recall alert.

--- silence ---

I was out of the country for the week. Technically it wasn’t total silence. I did receive a phone call to say it was all being taken seriously.

And so I hoped that I would return to a great outcome.

You have got to be joking!

The weekend I returned I checked the frozen beef lasagna. A week ago it was marginal, but this time I found packets where the entire side was unsealed.

At Winston Hills.

Baulkham Hills.

Kellyville.

3 out of 3. All of them had multiple items that were open. 

I notified the managers. The couple faulty items were removed.

I emailed head office. No response.

I called head office. The person handling my case was not available and no-one else could talk to me.

We aren’t talking about one faulty item out of a thousand, or even 100. We are talking about 1 or 2 faulty items out of a box of 10 or 20. 

And the person handling my case isn’t available!

And then rudeness...

Today I found the same problem in Winston Hills. I asked for the store manager and Peter said it was him.

I showed him the faulty lasagne. His response – “who are you?”

He was more concerned that I may be working for another store and causing trouble than actually caring that they had a problem.

There was no apology or thanks for reporting a problem. 

It’s time to start shooting the messenger.

 

Does someone have to die before they do a recall?

The risk of storing rice and meat products for an extended period in a non-sealed container are huge. That’s what the entire food standards are all about. 

We have proven the existence of contaminated rice. See our main photo!

We have proven the problem is in 5 stores, one in the city.

We have proven the problem is not batch related and has been around for the past 3 weeks (and probably much longer).

They are in breech of the food standards. They are in breech of their own promise on their web site.

Are they waiting for a food poisoning outbreak before they respond?

Does someone have to die?

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