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Stew Leonard's said yesterday that it is voluntarily recalling a number of chicken products, saying that they may contain undeclared milk.

The recall comes less than two weeks after Stew Leonard's recalled cookies that were sold under its private label but manufactured by an outside supplier, Cookies United.  In that case, there continues to be a debate over responsibility - Cookies United maintains that it informed the retailer that it was adding peanuts to the ingredient list, while Stew Leonard's maintained that the manufacturer never informed its Chief Food safety Officer.  Either way, the recall made a lot of news because of the death of a 25-year-old woman who was allergic to peanuts, ate one of the cookies, went into anaphylactic shock and died.

In this case, Stew Leonard's says there have been no reports of any illnesses related to the recalled products.

In a press release, Stew Leonard's spokesperson Meghan Bell said the products were sold at Stew Leonard's deli departments between August 2022 and Jan. 29 of this year.  The recalled products include Sliced and Shaved Chicken, Sliced and Shaved Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Salad, Chicken Salad Sub Sandwich, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Boom Boom Chicken Salad, Cape Cod Chicken Salad (sold only in its Norwalk store) and Lite Chicken Salad (also sold in Norwalk only).

KC's View:

I'm going to hazard a guess that once the first recall took place, Stew Leonard's did what any responsible food retailer should do - they immediately did an audit of all their products, include those being made in house, to make sure there were no more problems.  I'm familiar with these items - I've been known to occasionally buy both the shaved chicken and chicken salad - and they're all made in house.

It would seem that over time, the recipes got adjusted in ways that are not acceptable.  It is a good thing that Stew's is dealing with it and being transparent about it, but the evolving narrative is one that Stew Leonard's has to be concerned about.  

Stew Leonard's always has been exceptional at telling the story of the company and its products.  Now, it has to be even better at shaping perceptions, and doing so when the company's image is being stress-tested.