Grocery Chain Recalls Pizza Dough and Cheeses for Potentially Containing Razor Blades
Razor blades are something one might use to slice into packaging, carefully clean something off a glass surface or, you know, shave. They're not something for eating. Which is why one food recall in particular is making headlines: Hannaford Supermarkets just expanded a pizza dough recall to now include all Portland Pie products (from parent brand "It'll Be Pizza") after a customer at one store found razor blades in pizza dough purchased at a Saco, Maine, Hannaford store.
On October 11, the Hannaford chain issued their own product recall for all Portland Pie dough and cheese items sold at their 184 stores in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. But more reports are emerging that the supermarket had been aware of the problem far sooner than they made public. Two customers of the Sanford, Maine, store on August 14 reportedly returned bags of fresh dough that contained a razor blade or a razor blade fragment, Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly told the South Portland, Maine, newspaper the Press Herald.
Hannaford is obligated by law to report the razor blades within 24 hours of discovering them, but took longer—blaming technical difficulties. Hannaford representatives claim the returned pizza dough was reported properly within that store, but there was a communication breakdown that prevented it from coming to the attention of upper level management who would issue the recall.
"I'm a tad surprised that someone didn't realize the significance of this, but I don't know who it was and I'm not casting any aspersions on anyone," Connolly told the Press Herald about the holdup in reporting. "What we were told is whoever saw this thought this was a product issue and not a public safety issue. I hate to criticize people. They probably made the best decision they could make at the time. In retrospect, there was probably a better decision that could have been made."
"Customers who purchased Portland Pie pizza dough and Portland Pie cheese sold in the deli at any Hannaford store between August 1 and October 11 should not consume the products and may return it to the store for a full refund," the October 11 recall notice said.
Shaw's and Star Market stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island also followed suit since they carry the Portland Pie brand as well. So far, no injuries have been reported.
"A man has been arrested in the case, but products may have been tampered with before authorities knew about the tampering," according to Food Safety News.
It wasn't someone entering the deli, though. Nicholas Mitchell, a 38-year-old forklift operator for It'll Be Pizza, has been charged by Saco police with two felonies: aggravated reckless conduct, and felony-level violating the conditions of his release (he was under probation until March 2021 related to previous criminal charges) by possessing a dangerous weapon, a razor blade.
No charges have been filed against Hannaford or It'll Be Pizza. Hannaford admitted responsibility in a statement that they waited too long to alert the public and police. They also said they were working on improving internal procedures to guarantee that any future issues make their way up the corporate chain.