Food Safety: How it Works in Real Time

A brief case study of how Peace Dining Corporation, or PDC, (Mai Sushi’s parent company), handled the November 2018 national romaine lettuce recall.

On Tuesday, November 20th, the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that all U.S. romaine lettuce regardless of origin needed to be pulled from store shelves and stop being sold in restaurants and other venues. A particularly harmful strain of e coli bacteria had been found on some product.

Peace Dining Corporation, already has a fully organized product recall process in place, to respond to these types of situations. That process now kicked into high gear. PDC immediately looked at their purchasing records to see if they had any romaine lettuce in their system.  They uncovered that they didn’t use any romaine lettuce by itself, but that romaine was sometimes included in a spring mix (mixed greens) product that is an ingredient in some of their menu items.

On the evening of Nov 20th, PDC had a conference call with their entire recall team and told them to destroy all the spring mix products and clean all surfaces that had come into contact with it.  They also instructed the recall team to make sure no romaine lettuce had been purchased locally through informal channels outside of PDC’s central purchasing department.

At 8am EST the next morning, the morning of November 21st, they had another conference call with all the recall team members and the entire company wide recall team was able to confirm that all the spring mix system-wide, had been destroyed and all surfaces cleaned. And that they also confirmed that no locally purchased romaine lettuce was in the system either.

PDC’s recall team consists of a primary, secondary and tertiary contact for each of the 200 plus points of sale the company operates through all of its brands.  If the primary contact isn’t available, communications go to the secondary contact, or if they aren’t available, the tertiary contact. So, there is always a responsible point of contact for each PDC point-of-sale, nationwide.

PDC’s national recall of romaine lettuce had successfully taken place in a matter of hours.

On November 27th the FDA announced that Romaine is safe to eat as long as it is not sourced from Central California.


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