Would you like some metal with your chicken? Your answer to this question would probably be no, unless you were thinking of Metallica. That’s why two consumers complained to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) when they found pieces of metal in frozen, “ready-to-eat” chicken strip products from Tyson Foods, Inc.
When you think of something “ready-to-eat,” you probably don’t think of metal inside. After all, not everyone is like the late Michel Lotito, a French entertainer who was known for deliberately eating indigestible objects such as bicycles, shopping carts, and televisions. That’s why Tyson is now recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of these products that were produced on November 30, 2018. A USDA FSIS Announcement has called this a Class I Recall, which as you can see by the following table, means a high health risk:
|USDA Recall Classifications|
|Class I||This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.|
|Class II||This is a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.|
|Class III||This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.|
Don’t do what Lotito did. Don’t eat metal. A metal object may include or be coated with toxic substances. Its sharp edges may damage your insides. Metal objects, especially those that are larger and more irregularly shaped, could get caught up somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract and never pass through in your poop. So far, according to the USDA announcement, “There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”
According to the USDA announcement, these are the following products being recalled:
- 25-oz. plastic bag packages of frozen “Tyson FULLY COOKED BUFFALO STYLE CHICKEN STRIPS CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT AND BUFFALO STYLE SAUCE” with “BEST IF USED BY NOV 30 2019,” case codes 3348CNQ0317 and 3348CNQ0318, and individual bag time stamps from 17:00 through 18:59 hours (inclusive).
- 25-oz. plastic bag packages of frozen “Tyson FULLY COOKED CRISPY CHICKEN STRIPS CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT” with “BEST IF USED BY NOV 30 2019,” case codes 3348CNQ0419, 3348CNQ0420, 3348CNQ0421, and 3348CNQ0422, and individual bag time stamps from 19:00 through 22:59 hours (inclusive).
- 20-lb. cases of frozen “SPARE TIME FULLY COOKED, BUFFALO STYLE CHICKEN STRIPS CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT AND BUFFALO STYLE SAUCE” with “BEST IF USED BY NOV 30 2019,” and case code 3348CNQ03.
The ALL CAPS are what’s on the packaging and not Tyson shouting at you. You can see what the packaging for these products looks like on pictures provided by the USDA and this CBS 11 news segment:
The USDA announcement did not specify how much metal each consumer found. It called the metal “extraneous material,” which simply suggests that it is something that doesn’t belong. For example, you might be considered extraneous material in an exclusive social clubs.
This is certainly not the first time that a product has been recalled due to finding metal. For example, Dan Mitchell wrote in Time about a number of recalls including the following two in 2015: Kraft pulling 242,000 cases of its Macaroni & Cheese product because of “metal shards” and Unibright Foods pulling about 50,000 pounds of prepared meat products for “extraneous metal materials” including a piece of stainless steel wire. With so much processing of food occurring these days via machines, it is not surprising that metal may make it’s way into food. The question is whether food safety standards, monitoring, and processes are up-to-date and in place at all food manufacturers. Machines need to be properly maintained so that bits and pieces don’t break off into the food. There needs to be proper and thorough inspection of food before they hit the market. This may require technology as visual inspection with just the eyes may not be enough.
In the meantime, pay attention to recall announcements and your food. Inspect your food as much as you can before you purchase, cook, or eat it. And don’t eat metal. That’s not what’s meant when they saw you should get enough iron.