Tyson Foods Inc. has recalled 11.8 million pounds of frozen chicken strips because of the possibility that some may contain metal, the United States Department of Agriculture announced Saturday.
That announcement came after six people complained of finding pieces of metal. Three of the people said they sustained cuts to their mouths.
The company had already recalled 69,000 pounds of chicken strips in March but dramatically increased that nationwide recall after more of the complaints were filed.
The potentially contaminated chicken strips were produced between October 2018 and March 8 of this year, and their “use by” dates range from October of this year to March 2020. They can be identified by the number “P-7221” on the back of the package. While most are listed under the Tyson brand, the recall also affects some products from Publix, Kirkwood, Giant Eagle, Hannaford, Spare Time, Best Choice, Great Value, Meijer, and Food Lion. You can see a more detailed list of recalled items here.
It’s rare, but not wholly unheard-of, for frozen chicken products to become contaminated because of the process of producing the “meat slurry” with processing equipment. As Aaron Mak wrote the last time Tyson issued a major recall—in that case, for reports of rubber in its chicken—there are processes to prevent contamination, but there is no fail-safe. While maintenance programs monitor equipment for fatigue and inspectors usually check the equipment during cleaning and sanitation at the end of the day, it can still be hard to screen out material that contaminates the chicken because the slurry can’t easily pass through filters. However, metal pieces, unlike rubber, could be caught with metal detectors.
In a statement posted to the company’s website, a spokeswoman for Tyson said the company had “discontinued use of the specific equipment believed to be associated with the metal fragments” and that it would install “metal-detecting X-ray machinery to replace the plant’s existing metal-detection system” and use a “third-party video auditing system for metal-detection verification.”
In January, Tyson recalled 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets after rubber was reported found in some of the chicken nuggets. That same month, Perdue issued a recall after receiving complaints of wood in their gluten-free chicken nuggets.