Former Kerry QA Director Pleads Guilty in 2018 Salmonella Outbreak

Nov. 21, 2022
Ravi Chermala overlooked unsanitary conditions that led to Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal recall and 130 illnesses.

A former Kerry Inc. quality assurance executive pleaded guilty to not reporting food safety conditions at a Kerry contract manufacturing plant that led to a salmonella outbreak from Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal, sickening 130 people nationwide.

Ravi Kumar Chermala was director of quality assurance for Kerry Inc., overseeing sanitation programs at several Kerry manufacturing plants, including a facility in Gridley, Ill., that manufactured Honey Smacks breakfast cereal for Kellogg Co.

In pleading guilty, he admitted that between June 2016 and June 2018, he directed subordinates not to report certain information to Kellogg about conditions at the facility. In addition, Chermala said he directed subordinates to alter the plant’s program for monitoring for the presence of pathogens in the plant, limiting the facility’s ability to accurately detect insanitary conditions, according to U.S. Dept. of Justice records.

In June 2018, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked an ongoing outbreak of salmonellosis cases to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal produced at the Gridley facility. In response, Kellogg voluntarily recalled all Honey Smacks cereal manufactured at the plant since June 2017.

The CDC eventually identified more than 130 cases of salmonellosis linked to the outbreak with illness onset dates beginning in March 2018, but no deaths were related to the outbreak.

Chermala pleaded guilty in late October to three misdemeanor counts of causing the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce. Sentencing is expected in January.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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