"Heinz has become the latest victim of our globalised food supply chain,” said Farzad Henareh, recall expert and European md at Stericycle ExpertSolutions. “The situation it finds itself in is somewhat fortunate, as the contamination has been caught before causing any harm, but this could have led to an explosive reaction with global implications.
“It’s long been known that lengthy supply chains that cross multiple global borders lead to variations in quality control. China, in particular, is a repeat offender in this sense – it held eight per cent of the global share for food recalls in the second quarter of 2014 – so this situation does not come as a surprise.
‘Global effort required’
“However, what is self-evident here is that global standards need to be put in place, or we will find ourselves facing a deeper crisis than this. Heinz has done everything right in terms of issuing its product recall, but a global effort is required if we are to prevent these problems resurfacing in future.”
Food analysts discovered levels of lead exceeding allowable limits in an isolated batch of defatted soy bean powder from a supplier in China. That had prompted Heinz to issue what it described as “a small regional recall” of one batch of Heinz AD Calcium Hi-Protein cereal, it said.
However, some news reports claim Heinz had reported recalling four batches of the product.
Michael Mullen, senior vice-president of corporate and government affairs at HJ Heinz, said in a statement: “This isolated recall is being initiated in conjunction with local authorities and much of the affected product has already been withdrawn.
“Extensive testing revealed that no other Heinz Baby Food varieties are affected. Heinz apologizes to our consumers in China and wishes to assure them that the Company is 100% committed to food quality and safety on behalf of our consumers in China and around the world.”
Food safety standards for baby food products are a particularly sensitive issue in China after the infamous 2008 melamine scandal. Six infants died and 300,000 became ill after consuming infant milk contaminated with melamine.