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ConAgra Banquet Pot Pie, Peter Pan Peanut Butter Recall Executive to Leave Company

Nov 28, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
ConAgra Recall

ConAgra Executive Will Be Leaving The Company

The ConAgra executive who was involved in this year’s Banquet Pot Pie and Peter Pan Peanut Butter recalls will be leaving the company next July.   Even though the two separate Salmonella outbreaks linked to the recalled Banquet Pot Pies and Peter Pan Peanut Butter have tarnished ConAgra’s image, the company is insisting that those events had nothing to do with Dean Hollis’ decision to leave.

Dean Hollis was named president and chief operating officer of Consumer Foods in 2005, the ConAgra division responsible for producing Banquet and store brand pot pies and Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter. ConAgra’s Banquet and store brand pot pies were first linked to dozens of cases of Salmonella poisoning throughout the country on October 9. That day, ConAgra issued a health alert about the Salmonella pot pie outbreak, warning consumers not to eat any of its 7-ounce store brand or Banquet Pot Pies with the codes “P-9” or “Est 1059” on the package. Despite the health alert, ConAgra did not recall the tainted Banquet pot pies. Instead, ConAgra tried to deflect blame for the Salmonella pot pies by claiming that consumers caused the outbreak by failing to cook the pies properly.  On October 11, ConAgra finally did issue a pot pie recall.  

CDC Traced Salmonella In ConAgra Pot Pies

Ultimately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) traced 272 cases of Salmonella poisoning in 35 states to the tainted ConAgra pot pies.  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigation into the Banquet Pot Pie Salmonella outbreak found flaws with record keeping at the Missouri plant that produced the pot pies, as well as deficiencies with ConAgra’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control plan that spells out what the company does to ensure product safety.   The ConAgra Banquet Pot Pie Recall ended up costing ConAgra around $30 million.

The ConAgra Banquet Pot Pie recall came as the company was still reeling from February’s recall of Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butters. Those tainted peanut butters were blamed for another outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that sickened more than 600 people. ConAgra faulted a leaky roof and malfunctioning sprinkler system at its production facility for causing the Salmonella contamination. The plant in Sylvester, Georgia was closed due to the recall, but reopened earlier this summer.

In August, ConAgra re-launched Peter Pan, once one of the country’s top-selling peanut butters. The product returned to stores with much fanfare, with ConAgra backing Peter Pan with a 100-percent money back guarantee. Prior to the launch, ConAgra mailed out 2 million coupons for free Peter Pan Peanut Butter, as well as $1-off coupons. ConAgra also redesigned the Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar with a “New Look” label.   All of this was an attempt to regain customer loyalty after the February recall, and there is no way of knowing if the later Banquet pot pie salmonella outbreak hurt these efforts.

A spokesperson for ConAgra who talked with the Associated Press praised Hollis for helping improve sales and strengthen ConAgra's portfolio of brands as part of companywide restructuring efforts. The company said Hollis plans to seek "the top leadership position at another consumer business."

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