Greeley-based Pilgrim’s Pride issues recall of 4.6 million pounds of cooked chicken from Waco plant | TheFencePost.com

Greeley-based Pilgrim’s Pride issues recall of 4.6 million pounds of cooked chicken from Waco plant

The products were made at the company's Waco, Texas facility and recalled because of potential contamination from outside materials, including plastic, wood, rubber and metal, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The products included popcorn chicken, breaded chicken patties, chicken nuggets and other similar chicken products produced between Aug. 21, 2014, and March 1, 2016.

The recall came as an expansion of an April 7 recall of almost 41,000 pounds of chicken nuggets from the Waco plant, after several consumers complained they found plastic in the chicken. Pligrim's Pride voluntarily expanded the recall after internal review, said Cameron Bruett, Pilgrim's Pride's head of corporate affairs.

The chicken in Tuesday's recall was destined for institutional use, Bruett said. That means many of the end-destinations for the products were schools. The locations of the schools was not immediately known.

Jeremy West, director of nutrition services for Greeley-Evans School District 6, said Greeley's schools were not among those affected by the recall. Since the school transitioned to a from-scratch kitchen five years ago, it has largely phased out the use of breaded chicken products, like all the products included in the recall. The district gets the majority of its chicken from Boulder Natural Meats.

As of Tuesday, there were no confirmed reports of adverse reactions because of the 4.6 million pounds of chicken included in the recall, Bruett said. The chicken is still not safe to consume, though, and the company is working with the USDA to make sure all the product is returned and the issue is addressed at the Waco plant, which produces 150 million pounds of chicken products per year, Bruett said.

"In an effort to safeguard public health going forward, we are retraining all team members and assessing both our processes and in-plant systems to return Pilgrim's Waco plant to our high internal food safety and quality standards," Bruett said in a company statement. "Our priority during this time is to diligently work with our customers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure all potentially affected product is returned to Pilgrim's and no consumer is negatively impacted."

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While Bruett said he isn't sure if this is the largest Pilgrim's Pride recall ever, he knows it's one of the bigger ones.

"It certainly would be a large recall for us," he said. "We don't have a lot of recalls."

Any recall is a problem for the agricultural industry, said Don Shawcroft, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau. He said situations like these are unfortunate, because what may be an isolated incident can cause public panic.

"People get scared about whether their food is safe," Shawcroft said. "Most often it's a minor thing." ❖

More info

To learn more about the products included in the recall, click here.

If you’re a consumer with a question, call James Brown, consumer relations manager, at (800) 321-1470.