MOM Brands settles tainted-ingredient suit

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 19, 2013 - 10:09 PM

Company had to recall thousands of cases of Marshmallow Mateys cereal.

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Some of Malt-O-Meal's cold cereals.

MOM Brands, the Minneapolis-based food company formerly known as Malt-O-Meal Co., has settled a lawsuit against one of its ingredient suppliers alleging that antifreeze-tainted vitamin C originating in China ended up in thousands of boxes of cereal.

Last May, MOM sued suburban Chicago-based DMH Ingredients after recalling its Marshmallow Mateys cereal in five states and destroying thousands of cases of the product held in inventory. The suit was dismissed last week by U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz in Minneapolis.

“The issue has been resolved to both parties’ mutual satisfaction,” said Linda Fisher, a Malt-O-Meal spokeswoman, declining to disclose terms of the settlement.

MOM Brands alleged it lost $840,000 because of the incident and asked for recovery of damages. The company claimed it had to send representatives to more than 1,500 retail outlets to removal boxes of cereal from store shelves.

MOM sued DMH for liability and breach of contract and warranties; DMH denied the claims. No one was known to have been sickened by the tainted vitamin C.

Cereal makers such as MOM Brands often fortify their products with vitamins. In August 2010, an employee at a MOM’s plant in North Carolina noticed an odd smell coming from a shipment of sodium ascorbate, a vitamin C supplement.

An independent lab discovered the sodium ascorbate was tainted with chemicals including ethylene glycol, which is widely used as antifreeze. MOM Brands said in court papers that it believed the tainted vitamin C originated from a plant in Shenyang, China.

That country, source of a rash of food safety incidents in recent years, has been a major supplier of vitamin C to the United States.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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