The Indicator from Planet Money - The Straw That Broke The Bucatini Supply Chain

Bucatini is a specialty pasta that looks a lot like spaghetti with a hole in it. For pasta lovers, it's a fan-favorite...but it has mysteriously gone missing from grocery stores across the U.S.

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Content Keywords: Rachel Handler bumper something spaghetti

everyone is Cardiff this indicator from planet money today in the show. I am joined by Planet Money producer Alexi Horwitz gazi and Alexei. Hello. First of all, I see you've brought us a kind of pasta mystery. Not just any pasta Cardiff. This mystery is all about a very particular pasta shape called bucatini is basically just spaghetti with a hole in it by way of a self about bucatini. Fanatic New York Magazine writer Rachel Handler. When did you know that you were a bucatini hat or a hookah teenybopper or whatever because I just think it's cute, but I don't know by any means we were definitely a spaghetti family last spring that her beloved bucatini seem to be getting harder and harder to find at our local grocery stores in New York until eventually it seemed to be

Totally gone and then one day in the fall Rachel was on the phone with her also pasta obsessed mother who lives in Chicago and her mom kind of mentioned off hand that she was having the exact same problem literally haven't been able to find bucatini anywhere and she was talking specifically about to check out. I can't find my bucatini whatever I like who cares but then I was like, holy oh so I can I swear the real issue and then she told me that she had actually reached out to the customer service department at to check out for she sent them an email.

But her emails pasta in all caps to cook then this sentence is in all caps of 4 question marks. Are you still making it? Please tell me how to get some from a regional to check out sales representative named Brian play me the voicemail from Brian. I was like if there is a cup of like something weird is going on because of an FDA pick up a hold on the import of the chetco bucatini and now Brian was telling Rachel's mom to sit tight and check the shelves a few months down the road and the fact that this little pasta mystery seem to reach all the way to the federal government.

But that was something that a dog a journalist like Rachel could not in good conscience look away from but in the back of her mind, she wasn't sure it would go anywhere and I'll just felt so big and I think all of us figured nothing would really come if I did I would like I'm never going to figure out what's going on.

When I began calling to check o restart like five or six different people email and phone call and voicemail and no one got back to me. And then I was like something is happening.

And I don't know what site at that point. I was like there's there's a story.

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Rachel started digging with calls and emails to to check out but that didn't get much of a response. We will get back to you soon. Never did Rachel turn to the National pasta Association for an answer then. Spokesperson. Hadn't heard anything about a bucatini band, but he tells her look there's been a broader pasta shortage across the industry all throughout the pandemic because people have been stocking up on pasta like dry goods sold his theory will call it the number one with that the existing bucatini stocks had been wiped out by that first wave of codependent by and after that many of the big pasta producers had decided to dedicate their production to the most in-demand pasta shapes that spaghettis and Linguini's in the world and let some of the more specialty Cuts go by the wayside for the time being and Rachel's like, okay that would help explain the broader scarcity bucatini, but it would not account for this weirdness.

Sirius FDA hiccup the NPA spokesman was not sure about that and he said he'd get back to her if he heard anything associate at quickly done a little digging and now he had a new Theory Theory number to environment. They don't want to use plastic straw still use bucatini and then eat the straw appear to be what looked like boxes of bucatini being marketed and sold as Turtle friendly Eco straws. And this is where the national pasta Associates. Big bucatini may have fallen afoul of the FDA stuff because it's not already products. And so maybe the FDA is worried that people are getting sick from eating raw pasta. And so they've banned bucatini

List, you're misusing bucatini to slurp down there. Kombucha process give themselves e-coli or something. And then the FDA Crackdown on them because they were like this can't go on stumbles on a major clue lurking in plain sight on the fda's website. This is Aunt Rachel thinks the Smoking Gun except none of that made any sense to me is about macaroni and refusal of admission pursuant to section. 801 a 3 bulb love Rachel got on the phone with the chairman of the national pasta Association Carl's when Ellie and luckily he was able to decipher it is called.

Macaroni product enriched macaroni product of a certain vitamins and nutrients for it to certify itself as a in Reche macaroni product and basically what this jargon esea thing said was that the de cecco bucatini was found to be slightly lacking in iron and so they weren't importing it anymore. So finally the answer to what had caused this whole bucatini shortage seem to be a combination of factors pasta makers prioritizing their best sellers over specialty shapes and in the case of DeCicco bucatini, it didn't have enough iron in it and that they'll sort of FDA standards, but there is still one dangling thread to this mystery because when the FDA finally got back to Rachel they told her they'd notice to check on bucatinis iron deficiency through a routine food inspection.

You know, this doesn't happen really unless a competitor tips the FDA off at the a doesn't go around testing cost of boxes illegal Source before God. I want to give us first awake. So very very much. They told us that they had discovered the chetco bucatini iron deficiency through a quote routine enforcement activity and also that the case is still pending. We also reached out to dicecco but all we got was an automatic response saying they wouldn't be responding if you are a bucatini bumper or just bucatini curious. We are happy to report that other brands now appear to be easily available online as for Rachel Handler two-story. You can also find online. She says she's going to keep digging into who might have done to check out dirty as of yet even the company itself.

On answer calls. They think I'm the enemy I think but I'm like no. I'm trying to get answers that the public wants from you because the wheel of your pasta me help you help America today show was produced by Brittany Cronin. It was fact-checked by Sam psy.d indicator is edited by Patty Hirsch and is a production of NPR.
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