William Neuman of The New York Times today does a great job of dissecting a food bribery scandal that emerged when a top ingredient buyer for Kraft Foods was caught taking payoffs from a now-defunct tomato processor, SK Foods. These bribes coupled with falsified testing information allowed tainted food to make it into Kraft products.
The article is interesting from a business perspective and as journalism but for the purposes of this blog what is most interesting is the response from Kraft, which is long and detailed when other companies might have been tempted not to comment.
Renee Zahery, a Kraft spokeswoman, said the company was a victim of SK Foods’ fraud and stressed that there were no health risks in using the moldy paste.
She said that while the company did a variety of tests on the ingredients it used, for mold it relied on the tests by suppliers.
“We do not duplicate those efforts,” Ms. Zahery said in an e-mail exchange. “We take our responsibility for quality seriously and believe the SK Foods situation was an anomaly.”
Another Kraft spokeswoman, Susan Davison, said that in 2007 and 2008, Kraft sent a quality expert to monitor SK Foods’ operations because of other quality concerns, like excessive tomato skins in their products.
Ms. Zahery said that the company tested all its finished products for possible food safety hazards and that no problems were found with products made with SK Foods ingredients.
Kraft's people were up against a wall here and did a good job of giving the company's position, supporting its commitment to safety and getting the message that there were no health risks into their quotes.
One group that might be forced into this mess is the Boy Scouts as Neuman mentioned, really for no reason, that the head of the scheme is an Eagle Scout. I wonder if he had a bad experience with scouting as a kid.