Pale ales recalled
Ballistic Beer Co. has recalled a trio of beers for sale in BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Liquorland stores due to refermentation issues.
The Brisbane brewery said in a social media and blog post this week that in the interests of customer safety, it has recalled batches of Hawaiian Haze Pale Ale 375ml, Hawaiian Haze IPA 375ml and Reef Pale Ale 375ml from national, independent and regional retail stores.
“The culprit is diastaticus, a version of saccharomyces which is particularly virulent, that got into some cans. We went back through and tested retention samples, went out to the market, grabbed a bunch off shelves and tested those too,” Ballistic Beer Co’s CEO David Kitchen told Brews News.
“It is really irregular, it could be a can in a carton kind of thing. Our feeling was that there was a risk that at some point one of these cans could explode and feasibly lead to an injury, and at that point really our decision was we should proceed with the recall rather than pretend it isn’t there.
“We had a recall process ready, so we had most of that sorted and submitted that to FSANZ and Queensland Health.”
The brewery, which is partially owned by ASX-listed Mighty Craft, assured customers that no injuries from exploding cans have been reported to date.
“As soon as we detected the issue, we contacted FSANZ to conduct a recall and have notified all relevant retailers. After identifying the issue, we have changed our yeast management process to prevent a [recurrence],” said Kitchen.
While the product recall was sensationalised in national mainstream media, the brewery was met with an outpouring of support on its social media channels.
Ballistic advised that any consumers who have bought the beer with best before dates listed here should not consume the or open the product and safely dispose of it.
“When disposing of the product, we recommend you wear eye protection and gloves, and that cans are stored in a sturdy box or covered with a towel/blanket and placed carefully into the rubbish bin,” Ballistic said in a social media post.
“Customers can reach out to the place of purchase or contact Ballistic Beer Co. using the details for a full refund or replacement. Any remaining cans will be destroyed by Ballistic Beer Co in a safe manner.
“We are sorry to have released a beer that has failed to meet the high standards we aim to provide to our loyal customers and for any inconvenience that has been caused.”
The recalled beers are available for sale at Liquorland in Queensland and New South Wales, Vintage sellers in both those states and also ACT, Victoria, Northern Territory and Tasmania. It is also available in independent stores in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, and First Choice, Dan Murphy’s and BWS nationally.
Working on processes
Recall plans are essential for all companies working in the food and beverage sector, and Ballistic chief operations officer Lauren Jack explained that the brewery had an efficient recall plan in place which made testing, batch identification, tracing, communications, and reporting manageable.
“As a business we have very strict protocols around batch tracking on sales orders both internally and with our distribution partners. FSANZ has some amazing resources available on their website that we have integrated into our recall plan so that we can send them the exact information they require to support us,” she said.
“We also have a communication checklist in place so that we can ensure customers know where to go for more information and how to act safely around the product.”
Jack highly recommended having reliable quality and batch tracking processes in place no matter what the size of the brewery.
“Our quality team went through an extensive investigation in a short period of time because the sop’s and resources were already in place to work quickly and confidently,” she said.
“After that you want to be able to confidently identify the scope of distribution and be able to communicate directly with as many impacted customers as possible. Again, I recommend leaning on FSANZ for support, they know what they are doing, and they can help ensure the best and safest outcome for customers and consumers.”
CEO David Kitchen explained that the Ballistic team had already engaged in process changes around the handling of yeast which limited the potential for further issues.
“We had already changed the way we managed our yeast, and that in itself immediately stopped the issue. We decided that there were better ways of what we were doing and changed that process. We’d done that well before we discovered this.
“The big changes for us are additional QC tests, more than we were running already, we already test tanks and the centrifuge, but there will probably be a couple of other things and we will step up the post release testing. We always keep retention samples in case there is a question, but we might have to implement a bit more post release testing, so we’re aware of it [quicker].”
While a product recall is not an ideal situation for any brewer, Kitchen said there were some positive takeaways.
“It’s an awful thing but at the same time I’m proud that we’ve gone to the extent we have to nail it down and we made the right choice with the recall. It was the right thing to do and there is full support for the fact we did that to ensure the product that goes out is safe and of the highest standard.
“[And also] a silver lining has been the support from other industry players who have reached out and given their support or offered to assist, and I think that is again an indication of the sort of industry we’re in.”
A number of recalls have been undertaken in recent months as brewers look to other channels to sell their beer.
Issues have included secondary refermentation as a result of yeast remaining active and consuming residual sugars, which has caused issues with carbonisation, and relaunched the discussion over pasteurisation in packaged beer.
Brewers have been more aware than ever of the potential fallout of a product recall, and the Independent Brewers Association launched a comprehensive recall plan to help guide brewers through the process.
If you have been impacted by the Ballistic product recall this week, contact Ballistic Beer Co. at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 3733 3634.
Hear more about product recalls on the Brewer’s Perspective podcast on Radio Brews News.