Nothing completes a freshly toasted bagel like cream cheese, but in the month of January, Panera Bread customers had to settle for a substitute. After a sample from a single batch of one of their flavored cream cheeses tested positive for Listeria, Panera Bread made the decision to recall all cream cheese products in their restaurants, regardless of production date. This week, we’d like to explore Panera’s recent decision from a food manager training perspective. Bearing in mind their efforts to keep customers safe, especially considering the number of high-profile food-borne illness outbreaks we’ve seen over the past few years.
Recalls and Food Manager Training
Panera’s press release is very clear that only one batch of flavored cream cheese produced on a single date contained a tainted sample and that no cases of food poisoning have been reported. So was recalling product already shipped and produced on different dates really necessary?
When studying bacteria in food manager training classes, we learn that Listeria is a potentially deadly pathogen, especially to the elderly, children and those with weakened immune systems. Extreme caution should always be taken when there is even the remote possibility of releasing food tainted with Listeria into the food supply. In this current case, we support Panera Bread’s decision to exercise an abundance of caution. Even one unnecessary death from food poisoning is too many.
While only one batch tested positive, there is always the remote possibility that tainted product may have snuck its way into the restaurant chain’s distribution system. In a past blog, we explored the potential fiscal repercussions of ignoring food safety protocols. Taking aggressive steps when it comes to preventing food-borne illness not only makes a great deal of sense from a safety standpoint, but from a financial standpoint as well. While Panera may have decided to take a short term loss by disposing of more product than just the batch that had been confirmed contaminated, they may have saved themselves a massive loss in the long run with their caution.
We applaud Panera’s procedures in this case. Considering what you have learned during online food manager training courses and instructor led ServSafe classes, do you agree?