Monday, June 21, 2010

Marie Callender joins the recall list

Marie Callender frozen meals are being recalled nationwide after they were linked to 29 salmonella illnesses in 14 different states.
The company is recalling all of the meals, which are labeled "Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken and Rice White Meat Chicken and Broccoli over Rice Topped with Rich Cheddar Sauce," regardless of production date.
The product was distributed to retail outlets nationwide.
The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening, especially to those with weakened immune systems.
When I visited their website I found a small headline banner at the top of the page:

Can you see it? Go ahead and click on the picture to make it bigger so you can see it. I'll wait. 

(taps my fingers impatiently)

Yes, I am tapping my fingers impatiently. Do you want to know why? It's not because I want YOU to hurry up. It's because I can't believe THEY don't think people getting ill from their food should take away from their beautifully designed web page. (Yes, there was a little sarcasm in that sentence.)

I believe that people getting ill from their food should be the main focus of that page. 

I believe that they should feel so bad that people have gotten sick that they make that obvious. That they apologize. That they tell you how to get help. ON THE FRONT PAGE. NOT on some tiny banner at the top of the page that takes you to their Media Relations page that IS NO HELP AT ALL.

Nope. No help at all. As a matter of fact, the recall is just a headline thrown in there with their other headlines including "ConAgra Foods Announces Details of Fiscal 2010 Fourth-Quarter Earnings Release and Conference Call" and "ConAgra Foods' Manwich(R) Brand Goes Country With CMA Music Festival Sponsorship". Hello?!? 

So when I clicked the link that would tell me all about what ConAgra is doing to help people sickened by their Marie Callender frozen meals I expected to find something saying how sorry they were THERE. Wrong again. This is what I got:

ConAgra Foods is announcing a precautionary recall of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrées. Consumers who have this product in their freezer should discard it or return it to their retailer for a refund.

The company has been working closely with state and federal authorities, and while there is no definitive link between the recalled product and any illness, the company is proactively recalling the product after being informed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a possible association between the product and eight people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with salmonellosis linked to Salmonella Chester. CDC interviews have identified individuals who reported eating this product in April and May, 2010. The last reported illness was reported on May 22. 

Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a physician. Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, a common bacterial food borne illness. Consumers with questions about the recall should contact ConAgra Foods at 1-866-484-9610.

Do you notice the words precautionary recall and no definitive link and possible association? So that makes me think, ok, they were wrong. There's nothing to worry about. Mmmhmm.

How about the truth now? Wouldn't that be refreshing. The CDC says:

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory reported to CDC that it has isolated Salmonella Chester from an unopened package of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrée collected from a case patient.  Subtyping of the Salmonella strain is under way.
It seems like ConAgra just doesn't want to admit when they have a problem. I think I'll be checking all my packages for their name from now on.

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