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Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Grinder Recall

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a voluntary recall of Starbucks Barista® Blade Grinders and Seattle’s Best Coffee® Blade Grinders was announced. It seems that, “The grinder can fail to turn off or can turn on unexpectedly, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.” Starbucks has received 176 reported incidents with three known injuries so far, according to the press release.

This is not good news for Starbucks who has been struggling to continue to excel in the coffee market in this economic downturn. In 2008, Starbucks laid off 1,000 employees and closed 600 stores.

It is also not their first recall. Over the years there was a teapot handle that became extremely hot after heating in the microwave, coffee mug handles that detached from the cups and children’s cups that posed a choking hazard.

There is one common factor in all of these recalls though. Every product was imported from China. China has certainly seen its own share of woes as well, including a most recent recall of seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products because of the possibility of melamine contamination. Melamine is a product used in plastics. It found its way into the milk supply because, “The addition of melamine increases the nitrogen content of the milk and therefore its apparent protein content, says a New York Times article entitled, “Melamine.” Maybe Starbucks should consider using another source for their products.

In spite of this, Starbucks continues to reinvent and refine its products and processes. According to an article today in the LA Times, “Starbucks Corp. plans to start grinding and brewing coffee more frequently in U.S. stores to ensure fresh batches are always available.” With McDonalds challenging the coffee giant, Starbucks cannot afford to rest. I’ve had some of the new McCafe concoctions and personally, I don’t think Starbucks has anything to worry about.

In spite of what people think of Starbucks, it’s a serious operation and can take credit for raising the bar for the coffee education level of the general public. Thanks to Starbucks, words like latte and barista are now common knowledge. And surely, Caramel Macchiato was not a drink name on my lips until Starbucks came along.

Come on Starbucks. I’m rooting for you.

Photos of the grinders and all pertinent details including SKU#’s can be obtained on the CPSC website.

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09244.html

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