Why Are There So Many Foods With Metal Pieces All Of A Sudden?

Image courtesy of Melissa Wiese

People who pay close attention to food recalls may have noticed a recent increase in reports of food products that have been recalled because there are metal pieces in them. Are they linked? Should we run magnets through all of our food just to be sure? The answers are “maybe,” and “no.”

Food Safety News, a specialized news site published by an attorney who represents victims of foodborne illnesses, wondered today whether the cases of cookies, breads, muffins, and frozen Chinese dinners that have all been recalled for metal pieces and that all happen to contain sugar might be linked.

If so, that could cause recalls farther down the food supply chain. You might remember earlier this year when peanut-contaminated flour containing a small amount of peanuts led to the recall of multiple products sold in restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores.

The new recall today was for “Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Salted Caramel Cookies” sold in the bakery departments of ShopRite supermarkets, and it warned that the chocolate-caramel cookies and variety packs containing them might have an extra mix-in of metal pieces.

Yet that sounds a lot like the mystery metal pieces that caused the recall of P.F. Chang’s frozen dinners. The producer, ConAgra, said that the contamination came from sugar from an outside supplier, which was not named.

Grocery chain Weis, meanwhile, blamed a bakery recall of 30 items on small metal pieces in the “sugar topping” on some sweet breads and cookies in its store bakeries.

Are these related? The products in question do all contain sugar, but only the Weis and P.F. Chang’s recall notices specified that the recall was happening because the supplier had notified the companies about the contamination. We may see more recalls of related products––and learn more than we ever wanted to about which food products have added sugar––if that’s the case.