Perdue recalls chicken nuggets due to possible contamination with pieces of wood

Perdue Foods is recalling approximately 68,244 pounds of its gluten-free chicken breast nuggets due to possible contamination with pieces of wood, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.

The recall applies to 22-ounce packages of Perdue's gluten-free SimplySmart Organics breaded chicken breast nuggets labeled with a "best by" date of 10/25/19 and containing the UPC bar code 72745-80656 on the label.

There haven't been any confirmed reports of people being sickened from eating the products, the USDA said.

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"While food regulations have become more stringent and there are a plethora of policies in place for safe food handling and preparation practices, there are too many opportunities for mishandling for my liking. There are many chances for cross-contamination, especially when customers serve themselves. This can occur if a serving utensil ends up floating in a serving dish and anyone who touched the utensil previously had unclean hands. Improper temperature holding and insufficient cooling methods can also lead to the growth of unwanted bacteria." — Emily Ellis, MSc, quality assurance and research & development at Pellman Foods, Inc.

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Sliced Lemons

"Many bars and restaurants serve a wedge of lemon or lime on the side of sodas, water or beer. I always ask for mine without it, or pull it off right away. I do not know who handled the lemon and if they washed their hands properly before slicing it." Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen

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Raw Sprouts

"Despite the health benefits, I won't eat raw sprouts. I stay clear of any food with raw sprouts in it, because they have the propensity to cause foodborne illness just by their nature and also by how they are grown. Sprouts have been documented as being hosts for many foodborne-illness pathogens. The best conditions for sprouting also support the rapid growth of foodborne-illness pathogens if present in the seed. Recent foodborne-illness outbreaks associated with raw-sprouts consumption have included E. coli 0157, Salmonella and Listeria. I will consider eating sprouts, however, only if well cooked." — Daniel E. Archer, MPH, REHS, senior manager of food safety, workplace safety and environmental compliance for Stanford University Residence & Dining Enterprises (R&DE)

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Undercooked Ground Meat

"We do not eat raw or undercooked ground meat of any kind at our house. All raw meat has bacteria on the surface. Some are harmless and beneficial in breaking down the muscle fibers, as takes place in the aging process. However, raw meat can also have bacteria that could be harmful if the meat is not handled and cooked properly. Since these bacteria live on the surface of the meat, a steak can be enjoyed medium rare — about 145 degrees F internal temperature — but ground meat should be fully cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the grinding process could potentially introduce bacteria into the middle of the patty. This is true for all types of ground meat — including pork, poultry or beef — whether it is local, organic, grass-fed or ground by hand at your local butcher." — Dr. Mindy Brashears, director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence and professor of food safety and public health at Texas Tech

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Raw Oysters

"Before I became a registered dietitian and learned about food safety, I loved eating raw oysters. Yum! But having learned about how risky they are I now only eat them thoroughly cooked. The culprit in raw oysters, Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, can be present even if they are harvested from non-polluted waters, and there is no way to detect it by sight or smell. Only heat can destroy the bacteria, so I only eat oysters that have been boiled or steamed until their shells are opened, or shucked oysters that have been fully cooked until they are opaque (milky white) and firm." — Mary Saucier Choate, M.S., RDN, L.D., manager of outreach and stakeholder engagement at the Partnership for Food Safety Education

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Food from Bulk Bins

"Since I need to avoid gluten, I don't eat from bulk bins at supermarkets. Anyone with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or a serious food allergy should do the same, due to the possibility of cross-contact because the food is not packaged and tongs are often shared between bins." Rachel Begun, M.S., RDN, culinary nutritionist and special-diets expert

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"I see no reason to consume uncooked fish proteins. Well-seasoned and gently cooked, sauteed and steamed fish is nutritionally rich and food-safe! The goal for safe food consumption is to reduce and, when possible, eliminate any risk for foodborne illness. So when folks brag to me about eating sushi, I compare it to someone boasting about going through a red light. Sometimes nothing happens, but [other times] illness follows." — John A. Krakowski, M.A., RDN, CDN, FAND, food safety coach and trainer in Flanders, N.Y.

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Raw Milk

"Raw milk has been associated with numerous outbreaks over the past decade or two. Additionally, the threat from raw milk isn't even from one bacterium, but rather from many. It may be contaminated with Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli or Campylobacter. Pasteurization of milk began back in the late 1800s because of the association of raw milk with foodborne illness. It just isn't worth the risk!" Jennifer J. Quinlan, PhD, food microbiologist and associate professor at Drexel University

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Packaged Lunch Meats

"From a food safety perspective, many consumers don't realize that once opened, the product needs to be consumed within three to five days and not the expiration/use-by date. There is potential for the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis, and may lead to illness and in some cases be fatal. The groups at risk include pregnant women, older adults (age 65 and over) and those with weakened immune systems. The solution? Buy fresh meats from the deli, refrigerate at no higher than 40 degrees F and use within three to five days. For those populations at risk, heating the meat to steaming or 165 degrees Fahrenheit will reduce the risk potential." Susan M. Piergeorge, M.S., RDN, food and nutrition consultant and author of Boomer Be Well! Rebel Against Aging Through Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle

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"While many people view potluck meals as a fun opportunity to enjoy a variety of foods prepared by others, I view them as a risky dining experience filled with hundreds of food safety mysteries. Was the food properly cooked, cooled, transported and reheated? What about the health or hygiene of the person making it? Did little Johnny with norovirus help Grandma make the cookies? Thanks for the invitation but I'll pass." — Ellen Steinberg, PhD, R.D., L.D., food safety specialist and president of the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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The agency was alerted to the issue on Thursday when Perdue reported that it had received three complaints from people saying they found wood in bags of the chicken nuggets.

The USDA advises that the products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Anyone with questions about the recall can call Perdue at 1-877-727-3447.

Perdue's recall is the latest involving a major chicken company. Wayne Farms recalled more than 450,000 pounds of frozen chicken in September due to possible contamination with bits of metal, four months after Tyson Foods recalled 3,000 pounds of frozen chicken contaminated with bits of plastic.

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Every year 48 million Americans, or roughly one in six people, get sick from foodborne illnesses, and about 3,000 cases each year are deadly. Find out which common foods carry the highest risk of food poisoning.

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Between 1998 and 2010 in the United States, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that chicken accounted for 452 outbreaks that sickened 6,896 consumers, more than to any other meat or poultry product. Most outbreaks are caused by bacteria Clostridium perfringens, found in poorly prepared food or food left to stand too long, and bacteria Salmonella, which often contaminates poultry during slaughter and processing.

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Ground Beef

Ground beef carries a very high risk of foodborne illness because contamination with antibiotic-susceptible and resistant strains of E. coli and Salmonella can occur, leading to hospitalization, severe symptoms with long-term health effects or death.

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Most illnesses from egg consumption are due to Salmonella, sickening more than 11,000 people from 1990 to 2006. Federal regulations in the 1970s have reduced transmission of Salmonella from external fecal contamination of the shells, but today's most common type, Salmonella enteritidis, infects the ovaries of healthy hens and is transmitted to the egg even before the shell is formed. Eating your eggs raw or runny can increase your risk of illness.

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Scombroid is the leading cause of illness for tuna dishes and occurs when improperly stored fresh fish start to decay and release natural toxins. The SCPI's Outbreak Alert! database shows that more than 2,300 people have reported cases of scombroid poisoning, which can cause symptoms like abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea.

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Most cases of illness with oysters occurred in restaurants and are attributed to Norovirus and bacteria Vibrio. While other foods can become contaminated with Norovirus from improper handling, oysters can pick up the bacteria from the waters they are harvested from, making them risky to serve raw or undercooked.

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The CSPI reports that pork (other than ham, sausage and barbecue) sickened more than 2,000 people from 1998 to 2010, and most pork illnesses were linked to Salmonella. Interestingly, more outbreaks occured at consumers' homes than in restaurants (40 percent compared to 24 percent of outbreaks).

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From 1998 to 2010, there have been 130 turkey-related foodborne outbreaks that have caused 4,349 documented illnesses (second only to chicken among meat and poultry products) most commonly attributed to Clostridium perfringens. The CSPI explains that the spike of outbreaks in the months of November and December are due to improper handling of turkey holiday meals that are left out at room temperature for too long.

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Outbreaks with potato occur in potato salads and other potato dishes, and more than 30 percent of potato-related outbreaks are linked to Salmonella. Since these dishes contain many ingredients, the causes of contamination can occur from any of the raw ingredients or from improper handling of a raw meat or poultry ingredient.

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Other Beef Products (Not Steak, Ground or Roast)

Other beef products, such as beef jerky, beef stroganoff and chipped beef, are responsible for 99 outbreaks and at least 2,414 illnesses from 1998 to 2010 according to the CSPI. Improper handling after cooking may explain most cases of illness.

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Barbecue Beef or Pork

The barbecue cooking method is unique in that it cooks with low, indirect heat and requires after-cooking handling. The CSPI's study of meat-related foodborne illness deems it "medium risk" for causing nearly 2,500 people to get sick from 1998 to 2010, often from pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens that may be signs of improper handling. In addition, nearly 40 percent of these outbreaks occurred in a restaurant.

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Roast Beef

Traditional roast beef, brisket or pot roast involve oven-roasting thick cuts of meat in a shallow pan, boiling on a stovetop or cooking on a closed grill. According to CSPI, 2,470 people got sick from eating roast beef from 1998 to 2010, and more than half were sickened by Clostridiium perfringens, a sign that the meat stood at room temperature for too long before being served.

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Cheese can become contaminated with pathogens during production, and most cases of illness were due to Salmonella. Nowadays, cheese is made with pasteurized milk which lowers the risk of illness; however, unlicensed manufacturers may still use unpasteurized milk, so consumers should be wary, especially for Latin American-style cheeses like queso fresco and queso oaxaca.

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The popular cooking method for steaks is searing, when the meat's surface is cooked at high heat over a short period of time. Only the pathogens on the surface are killed, which might explain the 82 foodborne outbreaks that have caused nearly 2,000 illnesses form 1998 to 2010. More than half of these illnesses were linked to E. coli infections.

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Leafy Greens

In an analysis of a decade of foodborne outbreak data in the U.S., a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that leafy vegetables account for the most illnesses, surprisingly outnumbering animal food categories like beef and poultry. The pathogen Norovirus, which can contaminate food when it is handled by a sick person, causes 46 percent of those illnesses.

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Ice Cream

The largest ice cream-related outbreak occurred in 1994, when an ice cream manufacturer used the same truck to haul unpasteurized liquid eggs and pasteurized ice cream premix. The Salmonella-contamined premix was used in ice cream products that sickened thousands of people across 41 states. Another major source of food poisoning is homemade ice cream due to the use of undercooked eggs.

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