Yesterday I penned commentary noting the widespread implications of the ongoing hydrolyzed vegetable protein HVP recall that is permeating food related supply chains.  Not only do supply chain and brand managers have to deal with the upstream effects of HVP, but the ongoing recall involving the use of cracked pepper also took on a broader perspective this week. Talk about a double-whammy! How much turbulence can a supply chain sustain?

Updates published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Food Safety News now indicate that two suppliers of cracked pepper products are now suspected sources of contaminated product. The FDA has been conducting an ongoing investigation involving the supply chain for the imported black and red pepper supplied to deli foods maker Danielle Inc., and expanded the source of contaminated product to other suppliers. Danielle has already voluntarily recalled 1.4 million pounds of its ready-to-eat products because of suspected contamination with the Montevideo strain of salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that 252 people in 44 states have been sickened to date. The two suspected suppliers have been supplying black pepper in large bulk quantities to other food manufacturers, as well as to distributors who package pepper products for consumer use.

Food producers who utilized these designated suppliers of dry pepper must now determine whether their end products must be voluntarily recalled. To make matters even more interesting, those producers who happen to have had products that contained recalled HVP, must additionally consider this recall involving dry pepper, which may lead to a broadened scope of recalled products.  Again, not exactly good for relieving consumer fears about the safety of processed food products.. For its part, the FDA wants to take a closer look at the handling of spices from farm to table, in essence, the entire food supply chain.

These ongoing incidents involving basic spices and commodities in foods should be an alarming wake-up call to both food producers and other manufacturers regarding the scope and exposure to supply risk. Risk is not one dimensional.  It involves supplier viability, supplier quality, value-chain processes and the brand itself. 

Once again, our community mantra continues: Does your company or organization have a cross-functional supply chain risk management process in place? You had better get one in-place, and soon.

 Bob Ferrari