Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Did You Ever Get Someting Strange In A Food Package?

Over the years I have had a few strange experiences with packaged food items I have purchased. We have all heard of the story about the guy that opened a can of soda and found a finger in the can. I suppose most of us have found a pit in the bag of dried fruit or maybe a hair in some other food item. Some years ago I had purchased some Andies Candies, you know the one they leave on your pillow at the hotels. This box was filled with peanut butter instead of the mint filling.

I had a party in my home, served the candies as part of the dessert table and after many were eaten found that some had worms in the candy itself. I know you probably would have been as disgusted and embarrassed as we were. So what do you do? Do you throw them out and wash your mouth out with mouth wash? Do you take the remains back to the store and get a fresh box? Or do you do what I did, you contact the company and let them know about the problem.

This happened to me a number of years ago, probably mid 1980s. We didn't have the internet and knowing how to right letters on my Tiffany stationary, I thought I would have a better shot of getting someone's attention, I was right.

I was contacted by the company and I explained my horror at finding the bugs in the candy, especially the embarrassment at our party. They of course asked if I could send the box of candy to them so they could examine it. I never do this and would tell you not to do this as well.

I suggested they send someone to my home so they could examine the candy. I felt once they do this and see the complaint was legitimate I would stand a better shot of receiving deserved compensation. Although in those years, we didn't have lawyers advertising in the media to sue everyone, nor did we have the internet to share horror stories, so bringing this issue to their attention and getting compensation, was something many people just didn't bother to do.

Not to make this a very long story, this is the outcome of my complaint. They hired a local insurance adjuster who contacted me and came over to my home. I showed him the candy and there was no question about liability. He was very nice and told us he would recommend that they offer me a settlement.

I was offered $3,000 at that time, which I suppose is like $10,000 today and I gladly accepted their offer. They explained that the peanut butter filling was a new item for them and they found if they were left on the shelf too long that this could happen. Apparently the eggs of these bugs must have gotten into the candy mix and survived the candy making process.

I probably would have been happy with a years supply of their products, but this incident just confirmed my belief that you need to speak up and let companies know when they or their products fail to meet up to the simple standards we expect from them.

I also assume that they knew of the problem and wanted to keep it quiet. Imagine the recall that the FDA would have forced them to do if they knew this was an ongoing issue. Today we know better and call our local TV station, get reporters out to our homes and then hire an attorney who ends up getting us the thousands of dollars I ended up getting by myself.

Now if you want to read another story about finding another nugget of gold in a food product, read my next post about biting into a nice size piece of wood chip in a box of candy hearts.

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