Chicken nuggets

Update: On Feb. 1, FSIS released information about the retailers which received the potentially contaminated nuggets. They were distributed to Costco locations in 19 states.

Major meat producer Tyson Foods voluntarily recalled 5-lb. bags of its fully cooked frozen White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets, marked with a “best if used by” date of November 26, 2019 and Establishment Code of P13556 (see image below).

Recent Recalls

Multiple consumers reported finding rubber pieces in the nuggets, though no adverse reactions have been reported. The products arrived in stores at the end of November 2018 and were distributed to retailers in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Utah. 

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the agency “is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers,” and advises consumers to throw away affected products, or return them to the point of purchase for a refund.

Tyson spokesperson Worth Sparkman says the issue occurred during manufacturing at its Sedalia, Mo., production facility, though he declined to elaborate. “The root cause has been identified, and we have fully remedied the situation to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

This is the fifth food recall in roughly a month due to foreign objects in processed foods. Just last week, Perdue recalled 32 tons of organic chicken nuggets after consumers found wood pieces in the product. The other recalls included pork and chicken sausage possibly contaminated with metal, pork sausage possibly contaminated with rubber, and bacon-flavored pork patties with cheese, also possibly contaminated with rubber.

“Unfortunately, consumers are often the ones who discover foreign objects that end up in processed foods,” says James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. Consuming food with foreign objects can cause mouth lacerations, digestive issues, choking hazards, or worse, depending on what's in the food.

Foreign objects typically get into the food during the manufacturing process. “It’s often bits of machinery that come off, like if it’s rubber it can be part of a conveyor belt,” says Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., an associate professor of animal science at Pennsylvania State University who focuses on meat production. “We also see plastic from a variety of sources; these manufacturing facilities have a lot of plastic around for packaging and other uses.”

Campbell adds that some facilities use metal detectors to screen for foreign objects, but that obviously won’t detect rubber, plastic, or wood.

A bag of chicken nuggets that's part of the recent Tyson chicken nugget recall.
Photo: Tyson

The Details

Products recalled: 36,420 pounds of Tyson fully cooked frozen White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets. The nuggets came in 5-lb. bags, marked with a “best if used by” date of November 26, 2019 and an Establishment Code of P13556. The products were distributed to retailers in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Utah.

The problem: Customers reported finding rubber in their chicken nuggets.

The fix: The Department of Agriculture says consumers should throw out any of the recalled product, or return it to the point of purchase for a refund.

How to contact the manufacturer: Consumers with questions about the recall can call Tyson Consumer Relations at 888-747-7611.