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Bacteria in IKEA almond cake: products not sold the UK and Ireland stores
22-03-2013 13:00
 | 
[National] 
IKEA Group is committed to serving high quality food that is safe, healthy and produced with care for the environment.

Traces of coliform bacteria have been found in two isolated production batches of Almond cake with chocolate and butterscotch, produced for the Restaurant, from one supplier in Sweden. There is no health risk associated with consuming this product. The production batches have, as per safety and quality routines, been tested for bacteria that can cause health issues, such as E.coli, and none of these pathogen bacteria have been found. However, since the product does not comply with our strict food quality standards we have decided to withdraw the concerned production batches from sale in the 23 affected countries.

The UK and Ireland stores have not sold the products from the affected batches.
IKEA Group is committed to serving high quality food that is safe and healthy. It is of the utmost importance to us that our customers can trust our products, which is why we continually test our food products to ensure they meet our high standards.

We have, along with our supplier and authorities, initiated a large number of tests on our Almond chocolate and butterscotch cake around the world. To date, several tests on batches of the cake sold in our restaurants have shown that some contain a small number of coliform bacteria, which occur naturally in the environment.

In most countries, there are no defined limits for coliform bacteria in foods. However, in certain markets recommended levels have been mandated and IKEA is in dialogue with the authorities in these countries to ensure our products are compliant.

While all tests performed so far have shown there are no harmful levels of bacteria in the cakes and that they are safe to eat, we are continuing to test different batches, including those sold in the UK and Ireland, to ensure they meet our high standards of safety and quality.

Questions and answers:

What has happened?

Traces of harmless coliform bacteria were found in one shipment of cakes in Shanghai.

We, our supplier and several authorities have initiated a large number of tests on our Almond chocolate and butterscotch cake. All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

If the cake is safe and of good quality why did you sales stop it?As a precaution, we decided to not sell cakes from the affected batch while gathering facts. We did not have enough information and we also had conflicting data from different sources.

All tests show that our cakes are safe to eat and of good and quality. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

Eating a salad at home, that has not been thoroughly washed, can contain higher levels of coliform bacteria than the levels found in the cake.

If it is not dangerous – why was the shipment destroyed in China? Most countries do not have any limit for coliform bacteria in foods. There are a few countries that have recommended highest level. We are now initiating dialogue with the authorities on national level in these countries to reach common understanding. We are currently approaching the Chinese authorities to get clarity and to avoid similar cases in the future.

What are the safe levels of coliform bacteria?

Today not every country has recommendations regarding levels of coliform bacteria. To get clarity on recommendations for accepted levels for these bacteria in Europe, we are in contact with the EU Commission.

How many tests have you performed – what are the results?

Some 50 samples are tested – none contain harmful bacteria. All levels of coliform bacteria are within accepted levels except two samples that exceed the recommended national levels.

What actions are you taking now?

We are together with the supplier, Almondy, and third party experts (from SIK*) taking actions to develop the routines further. Substantial testing is performed to approve the cakes according to food quality and safety standards, including tests for coliform bacteria. All cakes that leave the bakery are safe to eat.

(*SIK, the Swedish Institute for Foods and Bio-technique is an industry research institute.)

How can you guarantee quality/safety of the cakes?

The quality and safety of our cakes are assured by a systematic approach to food safety and reducing risks of hazards in food production, using the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.

The supplier Almondy, is certified for food safety (through the BRC Global standard). Microbiological testing is conducted on a daily basis. The supplier tests for pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli.

Should there be even the slightest suspicion implying a health risk, the batch will be destroyed and actions taken as required and appropriate to the result of the investigation.

Almondy holds the highest level (grade A) of BRC since 2002. Almondy is also certified to the IFS standard (higher level) since 2009.

How can you explain that the bacteria/the cakes are not harmful?

We, our supplier and authorities have initiated a large number of tests on our Almond chocolate and butterscotch cake. All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There is no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

What are coliform bacteria?

Coliforms are a large group of bacteria, naturally occurring in the environment.

What supplier does the cake come from?

The concerned batch comes from the Swedish supplier Almondy.


Can customers return their IKEA Food products?

The concerned batch has not been sold in the Swedish Food market, so there is no risk that any customer has the product at home. However, concerned customers can return their products to get a refund. There is no health risk associated with consuming this product.

Where has the cake been sold?

The cake is a part of our regular range. We, our supplier and authorities have initiated a large number of tests on our Almond chocolate and butterscotch cake. All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

Have you stopped supply from affected supplier?

No. All production batches are, as per our safety and quality routines, tested for bacteria that can cause health issues, such as E.coli, and no pathogen bacteria have been found. All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

Why did you not react in November?

Due to a breach in internal routines the global IKEA Food organisation was not notified until Monday 4th of March. All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs.

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