As if Penn State didn't have enough to deal with, the university is now asking for the Food and Drug Administration's help in investigating the discovery of foreign objects in half-gallon containers of ice cream sold at the school's campus creamery, according to a release.
University officials were first notified in mid-May that a consumer found a penny in a container of the cold stuff purchased on the campus' Berkey Creamery, but they considered it an isolated incident.
Three more consumers have since complained that they found pieces of plastic inside half-gallons of various flavors purchased at the Creamery, though no injuries have been reported.
"We have vigorously investigated these reports and followed our
traceability protocol to determine that this is not an issue that
occurred in the plant," Berkey Creamery manager Tom Palchak said in a statement. "These are not objects used in our production
Creamery bigwigs and school higher-ups are stumped after research revealed that none of the plastic pieces came from any of the equipment used in making or packaging the ice cream.
involved police and the FDA investigative unit," Palchak said. "We are now taking steps
to further limit access to the ice cream ingredients and finished ice
cream at various points within the Creamery, such as warehouse and
ingredient storage, and food production areas."
Creamery officials have also notified ingredient suppliers to be on the lookout for unusual objects in their products, increased surveillance around the manufacturing plant, contacted their packaging supplier to look into equipping ice cream containers with tamper-resistant seals, reached out to the ice cream industry to discuss best practices and a third-party audit of the Creamery and moved toward buying an x-ray and metal detectors to scan their food products.
"These incidents appear random and have been confined to the half-gallon ice cream," Palchak said. "This is obviously a very serious issue. We work hard to ensure that our products are safe, following the strictest protocol, so reports of this type are disturbing to say the least. We are ramping up our food defense plan in the best interests of our customers."
The deliberate tampering of foods is a federal offense, according to the release.