Tale of the tinned tuna


It all started when Gabriel opened a tin of tuna to prepare our breakfast sandwiches for the next day. He was in the kitchen and I was in the rumpus when he exclaimed that something’s not right with the tin he just opened. Imagining the worse, I thought there was something dead and rotting inside the tin, or something that shouldn’t be there, like maybe a dead insect or something. There was something inside the tin that shouldn’t be there alright, but it was not a disgusting insect or anything rotten.

You see, the tin he opened was labelled Caramelised Onion and Tomato and yet the contents of the tin had a white sauce instead of the expected red. We were so dumb-founded that we both stared at the tin on the counter for several seconds, maybe even a minute or two, trying to reconcile the label with the contents and wondering what the hell has gone wrong?

We ran a fork into the center of the tin to see if maybe half of the contents are right but all we saw was tuna, mustard seeds and white sauce. I was still staring stupidly at this suspect tin while hubby got another tin marked Caramelised Onion and Tomato from the cupboard. He opened that and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the expected red sauce. Looks like the first tin of tuna was an aberration after all and didn’t affect the whole batch.

Curious as to what the first tin contained, I proposed that we eat it. Horrified, hubby said that maybe I shouldn’t and maybe it’s not safe. Well, if curiosity killed the cat, this cat could have been killed by a tin of tuna because I ate it anyway. I poked around the can some more, smelled the contents, tasted it and proceeded to spread it onto a slice of bread. It tasted like tuna with mayonnaise and mustard and a later search in the manufacturer’s site made us conclud that the tin actually contained the Seeded Mustard Mayonnaise flavour. It was nice and hubby actually liked it but we were still disappointed that we now have one less Caramelised Onion and Tomato and we were already looking forward to that for our breakfast the next day.

The next day, I showed the tuna of the photo to a work mate and she said that I should write the manufacturer expressing my concern. I was planning to send the company a proper snail mail complete with a print of the photo I took of the two tins side by side. Having to compose the letter, print the photo and then mailing the letter just seemed to be too much work though and I finally settled on filling out the online form on the manufacturer’s site.

It took a couple of days for them to reply. The contents of the email basically had a reference number on it, inviting me to call their customer service lined on weekdays from 9am-5pm. At this point, I just couldn’t be bothered anymore and replied to the email that I have given them all the information they needed to rectify the problem (I sent them the barcode number and the numbers stamped on top of the tin, but not the photo as there isn’t a facility to attach photos in their online form). That was a couple of days ago and I thought that was the end of it.

However, I got an envelope bearing the manufacturer’s name yesterday containing a letter, a page of recipes flogging their corned beef and a mail order cheque for $3. Here’s part of the body of the letter.

Incorrect labelling is very unusual because of the strict precautions taken to ensure that each container has the right label. What may have happened in this case is that an error has occurred either in sorting or in feeding labels into the machine, and this has been missed during final inspection before packing.

As a result of your report, our Quality and Production staff have been advised so that corrective action can be taken.

We are concerned that you have been inconvenienced as a result of this incident and, as a gesture of goodwill, we have enclosed reimbursement for your purchase. We value your custom and trust you will continue to enjoy our products in the future.

Should you require further information do not hesitate to call us on our Consumer Services Helpline (number given).

And with that, I suppose that is the end of the whole tale. I’m still a bit wary of their product though and haven’t bought anything else from them since the tuna incident. I buy things from manufacturers expecting that I get what I paid for and that it has passed stringent quality checks. Although package mislabelling doesn’t seem to be such a big deal in this instance, it somehow casts a shadow of doubt on what else could go wrong or has gone wrong in their production process.

Would I buy from their brand again? Not if I can help it.

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Published in: on August 15, 2008 at 12:23 pm  Comments (5)