Earlier this month, Tyson Foods Inc. recalled more than 75,000 pounds of chicken nuggets because small pieces of plastic embedded in the chicken were causing minor oral injuries.
Tyson Foods, based in Arkansas and founded in 1935, is one of the world’s leading producers of chicken, beef and pork. It grossed more than $34 billion in sales each year.
“A small number of consumers who contacted the company indicated they had found small pieces of plastic in the nuggets, prompting the company to issue the recall,” the company stated on its website.
Food-safety investigators traced the problem back to a part inside a blending machine, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.
The recalled products included 5-pound bags of “Tyson Fully Cooked White Meat Chicken Nuggets” with best-buy dates of either “Jan. 26 2015” or “Feb. 16 2015.” Tyson Foods produced the 5-pound bags on two days on a single production line at one of the company’s 40 chicken production facilities.
Tyson sold the bags of plastic-tainted nuggets at Sam’s Club stores throughout the country.
The company also recalled 20-pound bulk packs of “Spare Time Fully Cooked Nugget-Shaped Chicken Breast Pattie Fritters with Rib Meat.” Those products were only distributed for institutional use in Indiana and Arkansas.
There have been no reports of illness or other serious injuries.
“Tyson Foods has inspected all lines at the production facility to ensure product quality standards are being met and has implemented corrective measures at all of its facilities to prevent similar occurrences from happening,” the company stated.
Tyson Foods fined for workplace hazards
Tyson Foods has received at least three different citations for hazardous worker-safety conditions and at least $370,000 in initial fines since August of 2012.
In December, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration gave Tyson Foods four workplace-safety violations at a Hutchinson, Kan., manufacturing plant because an unguarded conveyor belt severed a worker’s hand.
The administration proposed $147,000 in initial fines in that case.
“Removing guards and failing to train workers in proper lockout procedures is inexcusable,” said Judy Freeman, an area director for the administration, in a news release. “Tyson Foods failed to ensure safety procedures, demonstrating a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health and resulting in a tragic injury.”
In November, inspectors again issued $121,720 in initial fines for “repeat and serious” violations at a Buffalo, N.Y., manufacturing plant.
The violations were for mechanical, electrical and fall hazards. A violation was also for a refrigeration system that used large amounts of ammonia.
In August of 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that a mechanic working at a Tyson Foods beef processing plant in Dakota City, Neb., died on the job. The mechanic was working underneath a piece of equipment when it fell and crushed the worker.
The administration proposed $104,200 in initial fines in that case.
“It is unthinkable than an employer would allow workers in and around dangerous operations without ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place,” said Charles Adkins, an area director for the administration, in a news release.
After investigation, inspectors found seven safety violations, five of which were serious.