Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a ten-part series on meaningful foodborne illness outbreaks.
A year earlier, when the publicly-traded company that owned Jack-in-the-Box saw its stock tank in the aftermath of the E. coli outbreak caused by hamburgers, the world food industry was watching. In 1994, the privately owned Schwan Food Company handled its outbreak of Salmonella in a much more aggressive way. Here how it happened:
In October 1994, an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis occurred in southern Minnesota. Upon investigation, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that there was a strong statistical link between those who were sickened and Schwan’s ice cream.
The Marshall, MN-based ice cream maker is one of the largest in the world, producing its own brand and others. As soon as the Health Department notified the company about its report, Schwan’s ceased all ice cream production. Setting precedent at the time, Schwan’s then took out paid advertising warning people not to eat its ice cream products, which were distributed nationally.
Further investigation found that the contamination was caused by a contractor’s truck that delivered an ice cream pre-mix to Schwan’s. In a previous load, the trucker had carried raw, unpasteurized eggs and the tank had not been properly washed between loads.
In the process of managing its way through the outbreak, Schwan’s blazed a new trail for what it takes to be a responsible company with a national recall.