A cyber attack on produce giant Dole shut down production plants, according to a company memo obtained by CNN.
“Dole Food Company is in the midst of a Cyber Attack and have subsequently shut down our systems throughout North America,” Emanuel Lazopoulos, senior vice president at Dole’s Fresh Vegetables division, said in a February 10 memo to retailers, according to CNN.
The hack, which is being reported as a ransomware, led to a shortage of Dole salad kits.
Some customers noticed Dole salad kits were not in stock in stores on Tuesday.
Dole said it contained the threat and “engaged leading third-party cybersecurity experts” to secure its systems.
A cyberattack earlier this month forced produce giant Dole to temporarily shut down production plants in North America and halt food shipments to grocery stores, according to a company memo about the incident obtained by CNN.
The previously unreported hack — which a source familiar with the incident said was ransomware — led some grocery shoppers to complain on Facebook in recent days that store shelves were missing Dole-made salad kits.
Dole has four processing plants in the US and employs more than 3,000 people, according to a recent company press release.
After CNN published this story on Wednesday afternoon, Dole spokesperson William Goldfield sent CNN a statement confirming that ransomware was the cause of the incident.
“The company has notified law enforcement about the incident and are cooperating with their investigation,” Dole’s statement said in part. “While continuing to investigate the scope of the incident, the impact to Dole operations has been limited.”
A cyberattack on Dole was the cause of the salad shortage, Adam Wolfe, the store’s manager, told CNN, citing the Dole memo, which he said his store received from its wholesale grocery provider, Affiliated Foods Inc., in Texas.
Russell, the produce manager, rattled off the salad kits his store was out of on Tuesday, the most recent full day of inventory, from Dole Chopped Sesame to Dole Butter Bliss.
“They [customers] are upset, but it happens,” Russell told CNN. “We can’t do nothing about it except [put in the orders].”
Mary Underwood, an employee at Stewart’s Food Store, in Olney, Texas, more than 100 miles west of Dallas, told CNN on Wednesday that the store had struggled to get Dole salads for several days. Customers started asking questions about the bare shelves, Underwood said, prompting the store to post the Dole memo about the cyberattack on its Facebook page.