Did Wood Pallets Cause the Tylenol Recall?
According to DC Velocity, the answer may be yes.
The maker of several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, announced a broad-based recall of these and other drugs after receiving complaints of an “unusual moldy, musty or mildew-like” odor. Johnson & Johnson received what the company described as a “small” number of complaints of issues including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.
Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol’s parent company, believes the chemical 2,4,6-tribromoanisole caused the musty odors that consumers complained about, and the source is wood pallets used to transport and store packaging material at its Puerto Rico plant. The company theorizes that the lumber used in the pallets was treated with the fungicide tribromophenol (TBP). When TBP dries, it crystallizes and can become embedded in the wood fiber. If that wood gets wet again, the moisture can cause the chemical to break down into the odor-causing 2,4,6-tribromoanisole.
A Johnson & Johnson press release that the company is ceasing shipment of products produced using materials shipped on these wood pallets and requiring suppliers who ship materials to our plants to discontinue the use of these pallets. According to its press release, “McNeil Consumer Healthcare is continuing their investigation into this issue and is taking further actions that include ceasing shipment of products produced using materials shipped on these wood pallets and requiring suppliers who ship materials to our plants to discontinue the use of these pallets. We will continue to closely monitor and evaluate the situation and consult with the FDA.”
So – do you know the history of your pallets, where they came from, what they’re treated with?
It’s recommended by Bruce Scholnick, president of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, that concerned shippers make sure their suppliers can certify that their wood pallets were not treated with TBP. This is something many operations don’t pay a lot of attention to, but those shipping products vulnerable to this issue that will end up in consumers’ hands should take notice of Tylenol’s troubles. Larger pallet vendors can typically supply information based on compliance and treatment of its pallets.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.