bisto complaint recall


30 Aug: Complaint on Bisto Facebook page

1 Sept: Bisto asks via Facebook page for direct contact with consumer but no details received

2 Sept: Letter from consumer containing metal pieces received by Premier

3 Sept: Factory alerted to details via email

4 Sept: Metal pieces dispatched to factory

7-10 Sept: Investigation of material and records to determine if pieces originated from the site

10 Sept: Metal sent for further analysis/assessment

12 Sept: Draft risk assessment concluded

12-14 Sept: No metal found in retained Bisto samples

14 Sept: Analysis shows metal likely came from site

14 Sept: Premier decides on precautionary recall

Premier Foods has said it is looking at adding new detectors to its Bisto production line after a metal contamination scare led to a recall. 

The admission came as it emerged that the recall did not occur for two weeks. While a complaint was made about the granules on 30 August, Premier did not recall the 170g tubs of Bisto Chicken and Reduced Salt Chicken granules (170g tubs with batch code L5208 and best-before January 2017) until 14 September.

The supplier said it had “robust and well-rehearsed recall procedures” but conceded “from the outside it may look like the decision took a long time”.

The packs represent 0.3% of the 11 million packs of chicken gravy Premier produces in a year.

Premier has identified the metal as from a stainless steel bolt ‘shaved’ by a scraper on the line at its site in Worksop, Notts. Premier said the original complaint - posted on Bisto’s Facebook page - was the only one received. “When we only have a single complaint, we have to be sure what we do is proportional, so this does take time,” said corporate affairs director Richard Johnson, adding there was no obvious initial indication the metal came from the site. “The first thing we do when we get a single complaint like this is determine if it is genuine or not.”

Factors that delayed the process included correspondence with the complainant initially being conducted by post as they had not given phone or email details. Premier said it took about a week to investigate the issue once it had the metal sample. and that, following a risk assessment, the decision to recall was made on 14 September

“We will be looking at whether there are things we could have done better,” said Johnson, adding this was routine following a recall.

One area to be examined is detection equipment, although Premier said it operated detection kit to best practice standards for on-line finished pack detection, with testing every 30 minutes. But Johnson added: “We are reviewing the feasibility of additional detection facilities at different points on the line as well other technologies to improve detection sensitivity. 

Experts said the shape and type of metal found in the Bisto - thin, non-ferrous shavings - were hard to detect. “Although it looks like a lot of metal, this is stainless steel swarf rather than a single piece, and there is not a lot of volume there,” said Phil Brown, director at metal detector supplier Fortress Technology. 

The BRC does not specify a timescale for recalls. A spokesman said: “We require the company shall have a system in place to manage incidents effectively and enable the withdrawal and recall of products. The decision to recall is based on a full review of the available information and risk to the public.”