But just a few weeks later, on April 26th, something much stranger happened, as reported by the Houston Press. That smallish recall became an enormous recall with the addition of over 4.5 million more pounds. On May 13, a final batch of 376,380 more pounds was included, bringing the total to more than 5.5 million. Why recall so much?
From the USDA’s release:
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a Waco, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 4,568,080 pounds of fully cooked chicken products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, including plastic, wood, rubber, and metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
Phaedra Cook of the Houston Press figured out that these products – mostly breaded, fully-cooked chicken in various shapes and flavors – are sold largely in bulk, and especially for “institutional use.” In other words, they’re distributed to schools, hospitals, and other places where food must be bought in large quantities and prepared easily.
Untangling the corporate web that makes up these companies, most of which are suppliers and not very well known to consumers, can be tricky. Most of the recalled products come from Pilgrim’s Pride, which is owned by JBS, the Brazilian producer that holds the title of largest meat producer in the world. Pilgrim’s Pride in turn owns a host of other brands, including Gold Kist and Pierce. The company is a regular behind-the-scenes sort of supplier; they supply KFC, Wendy’s, and Walmart, among others.
This also isn’t anywhere near their first brush with recalls; in 2002 Pilgrim’s Pride suffered the worst recall in US history to that point, for deli-style sliced poultry containing listeria, which caused three deaths. It is a regular target of animal right’s groups, including PETA, which has filmed wild abuse at the company.
We don’t have more detail on exactly what sort of “plastic, wood, rubber, and metal” products might have been found in these nuggets, but apparently the findings were bad enough to warrant a Class I rating, the most severe rating the USDA has for things like this, and means that “use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”