In late December, McNeil expanded an earlier recall of Tylenol Arthritis caplets due to increasing consumer complaints of a moldy or musty odor associated with stomach problems. The drug manufacturer attributed the odor to trace elements of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA), the source of which, according to the company, “is believed to be the breakdown of a chemical used to treat wooden pallets that transport and store packaging materials.”
Soon after McNeil’s statement, plastic pallet supplier iGPS highlighted the results of tests it commissioned that found bacteria in wood pallets.
The statement from PECO Pallet reads:
“TBA was discovered in drugs manufactured at a plant in Puerto Rico. Although no definitive cause has been determined, one possible source of contamination examined was packaging materials shipped to the plant on white wood pallets by a supplier in the Dominican Republic.
“TBA can result from the breakdown of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP), which is applied in some parts of the world as a fungicide to wood used to build wood pallets. However, TBP is not used in the U.S.A. and has not been legal for use or sale in the U.S.A. for some 15 years. TBP is not related to methyl bromine, which is sometimes used in the U.S.A. to treat pallets to eliminate pest infestations, and which is not implicated in any product contamination.
“As the emerging preferred pallet supplier, PECO Pallet places great emphasis on ensuring the quality, safety and integrity of our pallets. We have studied the facts relating to the Tylenol recall and have reviewed our pallet manufacture, inspection and repair processes in light of those facts. We can completely assure the public that TBA is not and has never been used for the treatment of PECO’s pallets or repair lumber. And because our customers are solely in the grocery industry, we do not have any customers that handle hazardous material or chemicals.
“PECO consistently implements rigorous inspection standards and processes to ensure the quality of our pallets and to eliminate any contamination. PECO employs a tightly controlled, well managed network of certified new pallet manufacturers, repair centers and lumber suppliers. Specifically, PECO does not use TBP or any other chemical treatment for our pallets or for lumber used in the manufacture or repair of pallets, at any point in the supply chain.
“PECO uses entirely domestic lumber and incorporates kiln drying or heat treating for all new pallets and repair lumber in order to eliminate pests, reduce platform weight and prevent mold formation. PECO pallets are always in a controlled loop from consumer goods manufacturer to retailer to PECO depot.
“PECO has developed and adheres to strict specifications defining our raw material requirements. We regularly check supply stocks at use points to ensure compliance by highly experienced third-party lumber inspectors. Our repair and inspection centers inspect each pallet to ensure that it is free of defects and visible contaminants. These facilities are closely monitored by PECO’s field operations personnel to ensure conformance to our prescribed processes.
“PECO continues to enhance our quality testing program to audit incoming material and to certify that it is free of TBA or TBP.”