Closing out this week, Perdue Foods announced a voluntary recall of approximately 70,000 pounds of chicken nugget products over concerns they might have been contaminated with wood. The recall affects all Perdue frozen, gluten-free chicken nuggets sold across the United States.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) explains that the recall came about after three customers complaining to the company (again, Perdue Foods) about finding wood fragments in their chicken nuggets. As a matter of fact, the FSIS also received some complaints similar to this. But while these complaints—though few—are consistent, there has not been any confirmed reports of injury from consuming these wood-contaminated chicken nuggets.
Fortunately, the Perdue Foods recall will affect only a single batch of products. This is the “SimplySmart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets Products,” which would have been produced on this past October 25. Also, these products will have a stamped expiration date of October 25, 2019 (one year from production date) as well as the UPC barcode “72745-80656.” In addition, the company has also identified the product’s establishment number as “P-3394,” which you can find inside the USDA mark of inspection.
While there has not been report of harm illness related to the findings, the agency comments, “FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.” As with all recalls, they also recommend, “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”
This recall is particularly interesting and important because the ongoing—and very frustrating—partial US government shutdown means that agencies like the USDA may not be fully staffed. Indeed, many of this agency’s functions are not currently operating—including USDA website maintenance—but some priority areas are still open. This includes food inspection for meat and poultry, as well as recall announcements. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration has resumed similar inspections, though these are related to more high-risk foods like soft cheeses (which can be contaminated but tend to not be cooked much, if at all) as well as certain seafood products.
But while we are still able to see some food protections in place, it should be noted that the FDA is charged with regulating approximately 80 percent of the food supply for the entire country. Thus, running at anything less than optimal capacity will definitely increase risk.