Tyson Foods, one of the United States’ largest meat producers, recalled more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets on Tuesday after pieces of rubber were found in the food.
A day earlier, another large meat supplier, Perdue, recalled more than 16,000 pounds of chicken nuggets because of misbranding and undeclared allergens. The nuggets contain milk — a common allergen — but it was not clearly specified on the packaging, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
That followed a separate recall by Perdue this month involving more than 68,000 pounds of chicken nuggets that were contaminated with “extraneous materials, specifically wood,” the U.S.D.A. said.
Doesn’t sound great. How did this happen?
The rubber particles in the Tyson nuggets were discovered after consumers contacted the company to say they had found pieces of “soft, blue rubber” inside the food.
The rubber came from part of a seal on a piece of equipment used to produce nuggets, said Worth Sparkman, a Tyson spokesman. Part of the seal was pinched during the normal process and was introduced into the blend of nuggets, he said.
Perdue discovered its most recent problem when a store informed the company that the labeling on the products was incorrect, according to the U.S.D.A.
“These items were produced with the wrong back panel label and have an incorrect ingredient statement that did not have the milk allergen declared on the package,” Perdue said in a statement.
The contamination of nuggets with wood was discovered when the company received three consumer complaints. A complaint was also reported to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is part of the U.S.D.A. It was not clear how the wood or other materials got into the nuggets.
Did anyone get sick after eating the nuggets?
There have been no confirmed reports of “adverse reactions” to the nuggets in any of the three recalls, the U.S.D.A. has said. “Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a health care provider.”
The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s main worry is that consumers may have bags of the nuggets in their freezers and will not be aware that the packages were included in the recall.
“Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” the agency said. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”
I’m a chicken nugget enthusiast, and this news disturbs me. Which ones should I avoid?
The Tyson nuggets, labeled Tyson White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets, were produced on Nov. 26; have a “best if used by date” of Nov. 26, 2019; and were being sold at club stores nationwide in five-pound bags. Before that, the packages had been shipped to club store distribution centers in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Utah. The packages being recalled have “P13556” inside their U.S.D.A. mark of inspection.
In total, Tyson is recalling more than 7,200 bags of chicken nuggets across the country. The list of where its packages were distributed will be posted on the Food Safety and Inspection Service website when available.
The Perdue nuggets that were recalled on Monday were labeled Perdue Fun Shapes Chicken Breast Nuggets and were distributed to stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The Perdue nuggets that were contaminated with wood were labeled Perdue SimplySmart Organics Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets Gluten Free, were produced on Oct. 25 and were distributed nationwide, the U.S.D.A. said. The expiration date on the packages is Oct. 25, 2019.
If you happen to have bought these nuggets: Contact Tyson’s consumer relations department at 1-888-747-7611. Consumers who have bought one of the contaminated Perdue packages can contact the company at 1-866-866-3703 for a full refund.
Didn’t the government shutdown affect food inspections?
Yes, but the bout of recalls this month is not believed to be associated with the recent shutdown, because U.S.D.A. inspectors worked through the 35-day stoppage that affected many federal agencies, albeit without pay.
“Our inspectors are in the plants every day,” said Autumn Canaday, a spokeswoman for the U.S.D.A.
I seem to have read about a lot of recalls lately.
You’re not wrong. Before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a sweeping advisory to avoid romaine lettuce after 32 people in 11 states fell sick with a virulent form of E. coli. In April, more than 206 million eggs were recalled after an outbreak of salmonella was traced to an egg farm in North Carolina.
The C.D.C. estimates that salmonella infections, a vast majority of them from food, cause about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths a year in the United States.