Plastic In Sugar??? Liability?

Business By Kitagrl Updated 13 Mar 2011 , 10:12pm by imagenthatnj

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:00pm
post #1 of 50

So I'm thankful and scared both...am working on a large wedding cake that will have a center support so I was cutting a hole in the bottom of my cake/cake board. I cut a large circle so it would fit over the base support thing and it was all chunked with nice moist pumpkin cake so I started to eat it of course! Next thing I know I was crunching down hard on something....I took it out and it was a somewhat sharp, pure white shard of plastic!!!

Now, that I know of, nothing broke in my kitchen while baking this cake....there would be absolutely no reason for there to be a shard of plastic in this cake while I was mixing and baking it. Had something broke inside my mixer I'd have thrown out the batter and remixed. Thankfully this one sunk to the bottom and I found it but now I'm scared about the possibility of more.

Is it possible things like this get in sugar? I was using sugar from a 10 lb Domino package. The shard was pure white and would have been impossible to see in sugar. Has this ever happened to any of you? Do you sift sugar just to make sure? Is this a logical theory as to where the plastic could have come from?

My second question is....if a customer were to find something like this in their cake and be very upset...or heaven forbid, somehow a child would choke on something like that....how would I explain what happened?

The obvious answer right now I guess is to sift my sugar before measuring....but at any time I suppose there could be a foreign object in flour or sugar or canned pumpkin or who knows.... how does liability work in that? (I do have insurance) Because I would KNOW if something was not from my kitchen...on the other hand, I have no way of proving that it came from any one ingredient....(for instance my theory is its from the sugar but I have absolutely no proof unless I sift through all of it and find more, which is unlikely).

Its been a bad cake week already...everything seems to be going wrong...I actually had to rebake several rounds of cake and take apart/reassemble, twice, and cut my finger, and one of my cakes turned out kind of ugly...and so on, so forth....so when I bit down on that plastic I was happy to have found it but I dread someone else finding another piece!!!!! And now I'm second-guessing myself, wondering if I accidentally dropped a spice lid or something in there...(like the plastic shaker top) but seems I would have heard something being busted up in there....and the plastic seems much thicker and stronger than anything I remember using.

GRRR.

49 replies
CakeInfatuation Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:19pm
post #2 of 50

Good grief girl! You need a break! I don't even know what to tell you. I completely understand your thought process but at the same time, know there's no time to do much about it. Thankfully you do have liability insurance.

I might sift through the sugar you have left just to "see". If you find more, then you KNOW you have an issue. If you don't, just hope it's one lone piece of something and PRAY!

playingwithsugar Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:31pm
post #3 of 50

I can remember a time when granulated sugar was found to have ground glass in it. Talk about a recall. It caused the price of sugar to spike almost to where it is today. Fortunately, the price spike had come down considerably at that time.

I sift all my dry ingredients before using them, just to get the humidity lumps out, anyway.

Now, the canned pumpkin is a different story. I never thought I would have to sieve that before using it. Obviously it's also something to consider.

To protect yourself in the future, buy the exact same brands all the time, from the same vendor, if possible, and keep all your receipts for ingredients as proof of purchase.

I can't tell you how of the liability lies with you; I think it would go by whether any harm was actually done to a client or their guest. You would have to consult a legal eagle for that answer. But at least with the documentation I mentioned above, the actual source of the foreign object may be traced.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:37pm
post #4 of 50

Man, that sucks. I always sift my flour, sugar and mixes when I use them because I worry about that kind of thing. If a person bit down on, was cut by or choked on a piece of plastic, yes, they could sue you (and probably would). That's what your liability insurance is for. They might also sue the sugar company if they thought it came from there. They go for the "deep pockets", the one with the most money.

Although it's impossible to know, the likelihood that there's more plastic in the cake is probably pretty low, I'd think. I'd sift all the rest of your sugar and see if there's any in there. Of course, you need to keep it if there is so you can deal with the sugar company. If you find anything you'll have to decide what to do about the cake.

I'm sorry for you. It's kind of a no-win situation. I just don't think I'd deliver the cake. If you knowingly deliver a product that might have foreign objects in it, you're still liable regardless of where the object came from. You couldn't entirely put it off on the sugar company.

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:38pm
post #5 of 50

I went through a bag and a half of sugar this weekend so I'm not even sure which bag it came from, if it even did.

I did check some of the shaker tops to some of my older spices and the plastic does not look the same...its BRIGHT white and seems very strong...I cannot break it or anything....and its small...and if I HAD accidentally dropped something in my batter...I should have had a large chunk of something lying around...OR it would have really made awful noises to grind up plastic as strong as this shard is.

So I can only assume it came from something packaged.

I guess for now I'll push through the awful feeling in my stomach and pray that it was the only piece, and thank God for allowing me to find it..it just "so happened" to be in the perfect center, base of the cake where I would cut a hole in the bottom and find it....

I am SO sifting everything from now on...*sigh*

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:47pm
post #6 of 50

Okay I sifted my remaining half bag and found nothing. I assume the plastic, if it was in the sugar, would have sunk to the bottom of my first bag. I gently laid the plastic in the sugar and it does blend in VERY good, its so perfectly clean and white.

The first bag though I had used in our iced tea all the time and stuff and I never found anything when I did that.

I guess I'm worried most about my reputation. We don't have any money to speak of (we don't even own our home) so its not like they could sue our pants off...but if anything happened of course the insurance would go up and my reputation would be shot.

So...hoping and praying it was an isolated piece that God gave me mercy to find ahead of time....

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:50pm
post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

Man, that sucks. I always sift my flour, sugar and mixes when I use them because I worry about that kind of thing. If a person bit down on, was cut by or choked on a piece of plastic, yes, they could sue you (and probably would). That's what your liability insurance is for. They might also sue the sugar company if they thought it came from there. They go for the "deep pockets", the one with the most money.

Although it's impossible to know, the likelihood that there's more plastic in the cake is probably pretty low, I'd think. I'd sift all the rest of your sugar and see if there's any in there. Of course, you need to keep it if there is so you can deal with the sugar company. If you find anything you'll have to decide what to do about the cake.

I'm sorry for you. It's kind of a no-win situation. I just don't think I'd deliver the cake. If you knowingly deliver a product that might have foreign objects in it, you're still liable regardless of where the object came from. You couldn't entirely put it off on the sugar company.




Not delivering the cake is not a really great option, it happens to be a cake that's been reserved and planned for an entire year. I think it is probably at this point risking my reputation more to actually just not deliver it and have to refund $1000 (Yeah, its a big fancy one) than to not deliver it because it *might* have something in it.....

I'll just have to pray hard I guess.

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 3:58pm
post #8 of 50

Okay I got good news, and bad news.

The good news is that I called my hub and he figured it out! Can you believe that!!!! He told me it was probably the plastic "teeth" of the Wilton cake corer I was using to core out the centers of my cake.

The bad news is, I looked at the corer, and there are an additional piece or two missing. *sigh*

I am soooo suing Wilton if something goes wrong with this cake.... GRRR. How the heck does a cake corer break, in cake?????

I'm actually writing them an email right now.

jammjenks Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:10pm
post #9 of 50

Good Lord, honey. What a predicament.

Do you know them well enough to mention it to them? Maybe the person cutting could be on the lookout??

I am very glad you figured out the source.

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:24pm
post #10 of 50

I can't find the other pieces. I hope maybe they got thrown out already with cores. I went ahead and used a knife to double the size of my central holes, since that's where it'd be...it was easy in the base tier but in a 3D pumpkin I made it was harder because it contains a central support cardboard and stuff like that. I used a spoon and scooped out everything and now both cakes have like these 3 inch holes through the middle.

If I didn't catch anything by doing that...I'm just going to have to deal with whatever comes up. I did what I could.

I hope this week gets over with real soon....and never comes back!

costumeczar Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:26pm
post #11 of 50

If that's it, then the other teeth are probably in the center area of the cake if they're actually in the cake. You could just tell them that they should avoid serving the part around the center hole in case it's there. I'd also go and look through the rest of the cored cake, if you haven't already, Maybe they're in that and you won't have to worry about it.

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:39pm
post #12 of 50

It probably broke all at once in the same place or you would have noticed it, so hopefully you have it all. I think I'd cut the cake myself even if you hadn't planned to do that. I wouldn't trust anyone else to watch for pieces.

artscallion Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:44pm
post #13 of 50

I don't know. But if you can't find the missing pieces I wouldn't deliver the cake at all. In my opinion, this is not about your reputation or suing Wilton if anything happens, or the fact that it's a year old order. This is about the possibility of someone getting hurt, possibly badly. And since you're aware of that possibility, delivering the cake would be irresponsible and all liability would fall on you, not Wilton.

You could address compensation from Wilton for any loss you suffer from not being able to deliver the cake. But I don't think you could hold them liable for something you knew could happen, but went ahead with anyway.

7yyrt Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 4:50pm
post #14 of 50

The most a company will usually do is replace the broken item.

cakesbycathy Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 7:34pm
post #15 of 50

Any time to redo? rebake, reposition, re-whatever?

I agree you HAVE to deliver the order. But I would also be a nervous wreck, too.

HUGS!! Hope it all works out!

bakingpw Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 7:50pm
post #16 of 50

Wow, I'm stressed just reading this! Can't imagine what you must be thinking/feeling. Did you go through the other cored pieces to see if the plastic were in them? I'd have the garbage all over the floor, sifting every piece, hoping to find the remaining pieces so I could rest easy.

The problem as I see it is, that you've already realized that a foreign object (potentially hazardous) "could" be in the cake, so if you do deliver the cake, you can't pretend you didn't know ~ you would be liable. Though I realize this would be accidental, still, you would be liable. Do you have insurance?

(By the way, how big/fancy is a $1000. cake?? Pics, please!)

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 8:32pm
post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

I don't know. But if you can't find the missing pieces I wouldn't deliver the cake at all. In my opinion, this is not about your reputation or suing Wilton if anything happens, or the fact that it's a year old order. This is about the possibility of someone getting hurt, possibly badly. And since you're aware of that possibility, delivering the cake would be irresponsible and all liability would fall on you, not Wilton.

You could address compensation from Wilton for any loss you suffer from not being able to deliver the cake. But I don't think you could hold them liable for something you knew could happen, but went ahead with anyway.




Exactly. I totally agree.

And she doesn't HAVE to deliver the cake. In the worst case scenario, she delivers it, tells them it has to be for display only, provides other cakes to be served and refunds the price of the cake. That's Plan B.

playingwithsugar Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 8:43pm
post #18 of 50

Ok, it's time for someone out there with some metal shop skills to start making metal cake corers, so nobody has this happen to them again.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 9:06pm
post #19 of 50

My decision, whether anyone agrees or not.... icon_biggrin.gif

Is that I scraped out an additional inch of cake from the center of the two tiers in question (the top two tiers have not been cored at all). I used a spoon and dug out everything I can from the centers.

Then, I will type up detailed slicing instructions (with the structure involved, I probably need to do that anyway) and I will say that they need to leave the last inch around the center supports unserved. A planner will meet me there so I will explain to her and then have the instructions given to the slicer.

Servings shouldn't be an issue because I overestimated on one tier (its a carved tier) so I know that she has plenty of servings even if the center inch of two tiers remain unserved...she will still get every serving she paid for. If anyone gets upset, I can refund for the servings unused, if something goes wrong there.

So at the end, between cutting out an additional inch of cake AND asking them not to serve an inch, I have given myself a 2 inch circle of "cushion" around where I cored these two tiers.

That, and I pray. Because if I don't deliver the cake, I get sued anyway for breach of contract. So if I get sued, I get sued. It will be over something anyway, this weekend. haha. So this seems to be the safest thing to do....I tried to cut away anything that could possibly hold any plastic, ask them not to serve the parts near the center, and pray for the best.

Thanks for your opinions, everyone.

Kitagrl Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 9:10pm
post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

Any time to redo? rebake, reposition, re-whatever?

I agree you HAVE to deliver the order. But I would also be a nervous wreck, too.

HUGS!! Hope it all works out!




I've actually rebaked part of this cake BEFORE this happened. This has been one of the worst cake weeks in my life. haha. I could make a HUGE list at this point of everything that has gone wrong with my orders so far this weekend.....

Loucinda Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 4:57pm
post #21 of 50

No advice for you, just sending you cake buddie good thoughts. (and a hug too!)

jason_kraft Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 3:57am
post #22 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Then, I will type up detailed slicing instructions (with the structure involved, I probably need to do that anyway) and I will say that they need to leave the last inch around the center supports unserved. A planner will meet me there so I will explain to her and then have the instructions given to the slicer.



That's what I would do in your situation, just make sure all parties involved (the planner and the slicer) sign off on the slicing instructions.

And double-check that your liability insurance is current.

Kitagrl Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 4:02am
post #23 of 50

Its current. icon_smile.gif I just paid it last month or so.

The photo is in my pix....

I will say the chance should be very low that there will be any plastic served because of all the cake I dug out from the center AND gave slicing instructions to the planner and one for the slicer, with the instructions about leaving an inch around the center support unserved highlighted in yellow.

So as long as no bubbles popped out the fondant (see pic description) hopefully all will be well. And I'm so totally glad this week is over and hope to hear no bad news! The bride will be returning my stand this week for a rental-refund so I'll find out soon enough.

bakingpw Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 11:40am
post #24 of 50

The cake was beautiful - very nice job!!! Try to relax while you wait it out. I'm sure all will be fine.

daltonam Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 12:52pm
post #25 of 50

Wow & double wow & that's at the cake corer, it's a solid molded piece of plastic (isn't it?). I really would love to know how that could happen, I wonder what Wilton's going to say to you. I do feel for you.

I had something like this happen to me....I was mixing up batter & a bottle of extract fell from the cabinet as I was getting something from the shelf above it. The extract (glass of course) hit the side of the KA or bowl & broke. Because I couldn't be sure of the shards I had to trash the batter & all bowls with ingredients sitting near it, wash & wipe down everything around it. It was very stressful, but I was lucky it happened to me & I could do something about it & not have to worry....Good Luck.

Companies don't care (or some don't)...........My SIL was eating a jelly filled Krispy Kreme donut & bit down into a metal screw head....we called the local store & he told us THERE ISN'T ANYTHING METAL IN THE KITCHEN (or some bull like that). Did the man not think the racks were metal & put together with screws.

kansaslaura Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 1:19pm
post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Okay I got good news, and bad news.

The good news is that I called my hub and he figured it out! Can you believe that!!!! He told me it was probably the plastic "teeth" of the Wilton cake corer I was using to core out the centers of my cake.

The bad news is, I looked at the corer, and there are an additional piece or two missing. *sigh*

I am soooo suing Wilton if something goes wrong with this cake.... GRRR. How the heck does a cake corer break, in cake?????

I'm actually writing them an email right now.




That was my first thought! That the corer broke. I am so SO SO sick and tired of people selling crap and charging big $$ for it.

And then only assuming the liability of replacing the piece of junk.

MBHazel Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 1:36pm
post #27 of 50

I hope this all worked out for you.

I am curious ladies, do you think you could go to Lowes and buy a brand new gadget that you plant flower bulbs with (forgot what they are called) and use that to core your cakes. I think they are stainless. They come in smaller size.


Hazel

Kitagrl Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 1:52pm
post #28 of 50

The Wilton corer actually has plastic "teeth" presumably to let you cut through the cake layers.....its the "teeth" that actually snapped off....

Kitagrl Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 1:55pm
post #29 of 50

BTW thanks for your support everyone!

artscallion Posted 4 Oct 2010 , 2:42pm
post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by MBHazel



I am curious ladies, do you think you could go to Lowes and buy a brand new gadget that you plant flower bulbs with (forgot what they are called) and use that to core your cakes. I think they are stainless. They come in smaller size.




You can also use an apple corer. Most of them are made of stainless.

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