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Kraft issues recall after several customers choke on plastic in their cheese

Kraft has recommended customers take these packets to the store they were purchased from, where a full refund will be issued.

Plastic in Kraft cheese

Photo Credit: The Kraft Heinz Company

Food company Kraft Heinz has been forced to recall thousands of cases of its Singles American cheese because of a machine error that has led to plastic being found in the slices.  

Nearly 84,000 containers are expected to be affected, and Kraft has warned in a statement the factory mistake could lead to a "choking hazard." 

What happened?

Kraft has called the problem a "temporary issue" and noted that a thin strip of plastic may remain in the cheese after the wrapper has been removed. 

The company moved swiftly after several customers complained that they had either choked or gagged on the cheese while eating it. 

Among the products affected are packages of 16-ounce Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product and three-pound multipacks of Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product. 

Customers can identify packs of the former by checking the "best when used by" date, which will be between Jan. 10 and Jan. 27, 2024. Individual packets will contain an S and 72 in the manufacturing code. 

For the three-pound multipacks, look for a UPC of 0 2100060491 3 and a "best when used by" date between Jan. 9 and 13, 2024. 

Kraft has recommended customers take these packets to the store they were purchased from, where a full refund will be issued. 

Why is this so concerning?

Aside from the choking hazard for people who purchased the product, it's another demonstration of why single-use plastics on food products should be avoided if at all possible. 

While this problem resulted from a factory error, imagine what kind of damage that plastic film can do if it is disposed of incorrectly and enters the ecosystem. 

Customers eating the cheese would not suspect that plastic would be found within, and the choking hazard is completely understandable. Now consider the problem when animals ingest these wrappers unknowingly after people litter or because they've been blown from landfills into green spaces or water sources.

What can be done to avoid plastic food packaging? 

Sustainable, biodegradable solutions are being investigated to stop the damage caused by nondegradable plastic food wrapping. 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge, for example, have developed a plant-based "spider silk" that could soon replace plastic wrapping. 

Elsewhere, reusable food wraps are increasingly available on the market. While this doesn't solve the problem of Kraft's manufacturing process, it's an easy way to prevent the use of single-use plastics when keeping food fresh at home.

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