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April 19, 2013

WOLFSIE: Another debacle in the frozen food aisle

Warning: There’s another case of food impropriety in the news. A popular frozen dinner option is being removed from ovens over in Scandinavia in another half-baked scandal. Families were waiting to feast on Moose lasagna, but as the cheese was becoming bubbly and browned, food officials exposed that there was pork in some of these prepared selections. Everyone in Sweden is asking: What is pork doing in my lasagna? People in the U.S. are asking: What is moose doing in your lasagna?

Jews in Sweden, all 14 of them, were upset because the company revealed that the 17,000 portions sold contained 1 percent pork — which the company admitted meant the product was not 100 percent Kosher. Or as my rabbi would say, “Not Kosher.” The bottom line is that even though the manufacturer is pulling the pork-tainted casserole off the shelves, the entree is still a favorite of many consumers. After all, who doesn’t like pulled pork?

For the second time in two months, it’s the conglomerate IKEA that is responsible for this food fiasco. Wanting to be proactive in this debacle, the company set up an 800 number so customers could, in their words, “lodge a moose lasagna complaint.” Everyone thought this seemed like a good idea except the local Moose Lodge, where they got a lot of crank phone calls.

IKEA is basically a furniture company that also sells frozen food, a technique to expand sales like the U.S. Postal Service decision to sell safari hats and dorky shorts so you can look like your letter carrier. IKEA has had a history of mislabeling products, once advertising futons as beds, a ruse that almost worked until people got them home and tried to sleep on them.

The details of the porcine-laced lasagna were first revealed by the Swedish newspaper Dagbkadet. Coincidentally, Dagbkadet is exactly what a Kentucky farmer says if he finds not moose, but a mouse, in his lasagna. One French newspaper scared the beejeebers out of their readers when they inadvertently mistranslated the story and Parisian diners thought there was meat in their mousse. Even hairstylists got the facts wrong and thought there was pork in their styling products.

Frozen dessert manufacturers were touched by the recall when Rocky Road and Moose Track Ice Cream began to generate a lot of Rocky and Bullwinkle jokes on the web. Even Sarah Palin, famous for her Alaskan commentary, tweeted that she could see Natasha from her house.

IKEA always thought there were sales opportunities for moose-related products and they hope this scandal won’t depress the market. They are now looking at how to make a moose jerky.

IKEA is not sure how to win back their customers after so many have suffered this unjust ingestion. PR experts found a snappy slogan they will use to promote the product to ensure people know the issue has been addressed. “You’ve got game!”

Dick Wolfsie is a television news reporter, syndicated humor columnist and author. He can be reached at Wolfsie@aol.com.

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