Arizona Tea, Kool-Aid, and other popular drinks recalled over glass risk

A couple of recalls were announced this week covering food and drink items potentially contaminated with small pieces of metal and glass. One of the recalls comes from Kraft Heinz; it covers many of the company's powdered beverages, including some flavors of Kool-Aid, Tang, and Country Time. The other recall is from H-E-B, a grocery retailer in Texas that is pulling certain soup products from shelves over potential glass contamination.

Two new recalls

The Kraft Heinz recall covers some Kool-Aid, Tang, Country Time Lemonade, and Arizona Tea powdered beverages sold throughout the United States. Consumers can identify the recalled products using the FDA's website to check the expiration dates, package UPCs, product names, and product sizes.

Products covered by the recall include Country Time Lemonade and Pink Lemonade, Kool-Aid Tropical Punch and other flavors, Tang Orange, and Arizona Arnold Palmer Tea. Kraft Heinz says it is working with retailers and distributors to remove the products from shelves. Consumers who own any of these recalled items are told to either discard them or return them to the store from which they were purchased to get a refund.

H-E-B's recall, meanwhile, covers the retailer's own-brand Tomato Basil Soup sold in 31.4-ounce jars. Only one lot number is covered; consumers can check the FDA's website for the recall notice and related identifying details, including UPC and Best By date. Anyone who purchased one of these recall jars can return them to any H-E-B store, according to the retailer, to get a refund.

How glass is detected

These aren't the first recalls this year over potential glass and metal contamination. Back in September, for example, H-E-B was one of the brands impacted by a trail mix recall from SunTree Snack Foods, which reported the potential presence of glass in certain products. More recently, a number of cupcakes were recalled in various states over the risk of metal mesh wire fragments.

How do companies determine when products may be contaminated? More often than not, these recalls are the result of either internal reviews that identify the problem, notifications from suppliers that discovered their own manufacturing issue, or alerts from customers who find unexpected objects in the products they bought.

The new Kraft Heinz recall was initiated after an internal review at the manufacturing facility where the beverage powders were made, according to the company's recall notice. During production, Kraft Heinz says, "very small" bits of glass and metal may have ended up in the drinks.

H-E-B, meanwhile, only discovered the problem after the supplier behind the tomato soup product received a customer report claiming that a piece of glass was found in the food. Fortunately, the retailer says there haven't been any reports of injuries related to this recall.

Technology also plays an important role in discovering foreign objects in packaged food products, which can include everything from bits of metal from machinery to a lost pair of earplugs or safety glasses belonging to a factory worker. One popularly used solution for detecting contaminants in packaged food involves X-ray technology (via Loma)

The FDA explains that X-rays, as with other commonly used irradiation processes, do not impact a food product's appearance, flavor, texture, or nutrition, nor does it make the food radioactive. The agency notes the various reasons food irradiation takes place, including more than just contaminant detection. Gamma rays and high-energy electrons are also used for purposes that include killing insects, extending shelf life, destroying organisms like E. coli that can cause foodborne illnesses, delaying ripening, and sterilization.