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Malt-O-Meal has voluntarily recalled its unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals produced with "Best If Used By" codes between April 8, 2008 (coded as "APR0808") and March 18, 2009 (coded as "MAR1809") because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
The recalled cereals were distributed nationally and sold under the Malt-O-Meal brand and as several private label brands, including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's, ShopRite, Tops, and Weis Quality.
To date, no illnesses have been reported from consumption of these cereals. All other Malt-O-Meal products are safe for continued sale and consumption, according to the Minneapolis-based company, which added that the products affected by this recall represent less than one-half of 1 percent of its annual production of ready-to-eat cereal.
"Our first and highest priority is the safety of the consumers who use our products," said Malt-O-Meal president and c.e.o. Chris Neugent in a statement. "It's important that we spread the word about this situation quickly and broadly in order to remove even the slightest possibility that someone will consume something harmful. We apologize for this situation and promise to do everything to complete the recall as quickly as possible."
The recall ensued after the company's internal routine food safety testing detected the presence of Salmonella in a product produced on March 24. Malt-O-Meal immediately began an investigation to determine how the contamination occurred, as well as the extent of any possible exposure. As a precaution, the company chose to voluntarily remove all of the products listed above.
"Malt-O-Meal has a strong food safety record, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our products and procedures to exceed industry standards," noted Neugent. "We have a strong food safety program in place throughout our operations, including our warehouse, processing facility and distribution system."
According to Neugent, Malt-O-Meal's ongoing food safety precautions include: an industry-leading Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, a sanitary practice monitoring system, an equipment disinfection program, employee training and ongoing education programs, microbiological testing of raw, in-process and finished products, GMP training (Good Manufacturing Practices), and a recall program.
The company also recently rolled out a program requiring its suppliers to provide proof of effective food safety programs and the results of a third-party audit regarding those practices.
"We will take any additional measures necessary to preserve our customers' confidence in the safety and wholesomeness of the products we offer to consumers," added Neugent.
Malt-O-Meal, the fourth largest ready-to-eat cereal manufacturer in the United States, supplies a full line of branded cereals and private label cereals to the grocery industry. The company currently produces 30 branded ready-to-eat cereals, three varieties of Malt-O-Meal Hot Wheat cereal, and a full line of oatmeal products.