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    This robo phone call may be healthful

    Tim's Cascade Snacks is recalling some Hawaiian Kettle Style Sweet Maui Onion chips and rings. Some buyers are finding out via robo phone calls.

    Jon Sayer picked up his mobile phone over the noon hour today and heard the voice of a robo phone call. He's glad he held on long enough to hear a notification that he had bought potato chips that are being recalled because of salmonella contamination concerns.

    Sayer, who works at Crosscut as online project manager, had purchased Hawaiian Kettle Style Sweet Maui Onion Potato Chips, made by Tim's Cascade Snacks of Algona. The Algona-based company is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of some of the chips and its Sweet Maui Sweet Onion Rings.

    Sayer bought the potato chips from a QFC store, where he always uses the chain's Advantage shopping card because, he says, he doesn't pay attention while picking up items to whether there is a discount for cardholders. At first, he figured the phone call, which had an obviously recorded voice, would just be an ad of some sort, but "for whatever reason," he decided to listen.

    Sayer said he became ill last week, when he thinks he may have eaten some of the chips, and he was feeling somewhat nauseous again today, just days after eating "a lot" of the chips. And he had more packages of them at home.

    Kristin Maas, QFC's public affairs manager in Bellevue, she believed the parent Kroger Co. began the call-system notification of customers during the morning. She said that shoppers' using the Advantage cards, and having their contact information updated, is critical to notifying customers when they have bought a product subject to health- or safety-related recalls.

    "You should always use your card ... you just never know when something is going to happen," Maas said. As she noted, other grocery chains have similar card programs, and conduct recall notifications for customers whom they can identify through their cards.

    In a press release, which is posted on a Food and Drug Administration web site, Tim's said it knew of no illnesses but that it had used a hydrolyzed vegetable protein that has been recalled by a Las Vegas company, Basic Food Flavors, Inc. The company said consumers with questions can call 888-299-7646. The FDA web site posts announcement of recalls, including another one, of Castella Chicken Soup Base, associated with the same company's vegetable protein.

    Sayer said the chips have been a favorite and he will likely eat them again, but probably not for quite a while

    Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

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