Lawmakers Seek Information on Chemical After Kellogg Cereal Recall

August 4, 2010

U.S. lawmakers are seeking more information on the chemical believed to be behind this summer’s recall of 28 million boxes of Kellogg Co. cereals.

In an Aug. 2 letter to Kellogg Chief Executive David MacKay, Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Bart Stupak, the chairmen of the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, respectively, said they were “examining the recent recall” of Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks cereals.

In particular, the lawmakers are seeking information about 2-methylnaphthalene, which the Washington Post reported Monday as the likely source of the foul taste and smell cited as the reason for Kellogg’s voluntary cereal recall on June 25.

The news report also said Kellogg destroyed most of the tainted liners before initiating the recall.

In announcing the recall, Kellogg said it noticed “an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell” from the box liners of its popular Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks products.

The company said the chance of serious illness from the smell was low, but the products could cause nausea and diarrhea among sensitive consumers.

On Monday, the lawmakers said “at least one study has shown that 2-methylnaphthalene may cause lung injuries in adults.”

In fact, little is known about the safety profile of 2-methylnaphthalene, which is derived from crude oil.

Lawmakers asked Kellogg to hand over by Aug. 16 “all documents relating to any assessments of the health risks posed by 2-methylnaphthalene conducted by, commissioned by, or requested by your company.” They also requested all documents related to the investigation and subsequent cereal recall, as well as other items.

Kellogg representatives were not immediately available for comment.

In a recorded statement about the cereal recall, the company said it “identified elevated levels of hydrocarbons normally found in the paraffin wax and film in the liners.”

Kellogg said the wax, which is commonly used as a protective coating on everything from fruit to cheese, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The recording added that Kellogg had “verified that the elevated levels of hydrocarbons are not present at harmful levels.”

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by Andre Grenon)

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