Local granola business takes hit after peanut butter recall

The removal of several food items sold on campus after a chain of food recalls has resulted in a decline in revenues for Anderson Trail Inc., a locally owned producer and distributor of granola products.

Justin Avery Anderson, a senior English major and founder of Anderson Trail, said Sodexo Inc. requested that he remove all of the Anderson Trail food items, including ones that contained no peanut-based ingredients.

“Only one of my products, the Peanut Butter Graham Cracker, has peanut products in it,” Anderson said. “I’ve supplied the documents showing that the peanuts and peanut butter that we use have nothing to do with the recall.”

Monica Zimmer, public relations director for Sodexo, the food service provider for the university, said she could not discuss any supplier relations publicly.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Sodexo has removed all potentially harmful products,” Zimmer said.

Ashten Burris, a sophomore theatre major, said the absence of Anderson Trail products has inconvenienced her daily routine.

“I usually eat the big bags of the original flavor,” she said. “I usually carry them around in a bag because I have four and a half straight hours of class on Tuesday and Thursday and work after that, so I don’t have time to eat … it’s frustrating.”

Anderson said that he has tried to work with Sodexo to clear his products so they can be restocked.

“Central Market, Market Street and all the other chains from the Southwest only needed the documents,” he said. “Only Sodexo has removed any products, and given that I am so local to the Sodexo TCU operation, it feels like I’ve been pushed aside.”

Anderson said he was told by campus Sodexo employees that all peanut products that had been “processed in a facility that may process peanuts” were removed from shelves.

“The interesting thing is that I’m not being allowed to sell my products even though I have found 15 items currently being sold on campus that are in the same ‘processed in a facility’ category,” Anderson said.

The list includes products such as the Nestle Drumstick and Dreyer’s Dibs.

Zimmer said any products on the shelves are considered safe because they have been confirmed by an approved supplier.

“Sodexo is monitoring the situation and making the decisions as we go,” she said. “We’re continuing to work with all of our suppliers, including Anderson Trail, to ensure that they are safe. It’s all about customer safety for us.”

Anderson said campus eateries are a main source for his revenues, and given the locality of his business, the removal of his products has significantly impacted his revenues.

“I was trying to work with Sodexo to be one of the first items back on the shelves,” Anderson said.

Dining Services employees told Anderson he would have to wait until after Spring Break for the items to be cleared in the industry, Anderson said.

Rick Flores, general manager for Dining Services, and Ev Barnes, operations director for Dining Services, did not reply to an e-mail requesting comment.