USDA Issues Public Health Alert After Complaints About ‘Foreign Material’ in Frozen Pilaf

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
February 9, 2024US News
USDA Issues Public Health Alert After Complaints About ‘Foreign Material’ in Frozen Pilaf
People shop at a Trader Joe’s store in lower Manhattan in New York City, on April 18, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a public health warning relating to a food product sold at the retailer Trader Joe’s.

The announcement was made on Feb. 7 following multiple complaints from consumers about foreign material in one of the company’s frozen chicken pilaf products.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns of a frozen ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken pilaf product that may be contaminated with foreign material, specifically rocks,” the alert states.

Customers were urged not to consume the product. Although no major injuries were reported, one person who consumed the food item said he suffered a dental injury as a result. According to the announcement, no recall was requested because the product is no longer available for purchase.

The USDA advised anyone who may be concerned about an injury or illness to contact a healthcare provider.

Despite the product no longer being available for purchase, FSIS has expressed concerns that some of the products may be in consumers’ freezers. In this case, the directive is to either throw away the product or to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The product was produced on various dates between Nov. 1, 2023 and Jan. 19, 2024, and has been distributed across Trader Joe’s stores in over 40 states.

The USDA posted a photo of the 14-oz. product. The full product name is listed as follows, and includes the number “P-45322” inside of the USDA mark of inspection:

“Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil, & Caramelized Onion Pilaf WITH SAFFRON BASMATI RICE, DARK CHICKEN MEAT, DATES & GOLDEN RAISINS.”

Those with questions about the alert are advised to call the producing establishment, Mama Vicky’s, at 818-583-0003 for more information.

Trader Joe’s

According to an announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month, several other products have been recalled at Trader Joe’s nationwide following contamination with the potentially deadly “ Listeria monocytogenes” organism, which was found in certain products containing dairy, including cotija cheese.

The products, which were sold under multiple brand names, were manufactured by Southern California-based Rizo-López Foods, and were subject to a voluntary nationwide recall by the company.

The FDA’s announcement came as part of a nationwide multi-year dairy recall, after contaminated products had caused the deaths of two people and left multiple others infected with listeria, causing severe illness and the hospitalization of more than 20 people.

The outbreak was first investigated in 2017 and then in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite having been able to identify certain cheeses as a likely source for the outbreak, investigators were unable at the time to link it to a specific brand.

Upon re-opening the investigation in December following several reports of associated illnesses, investigators were able to identify Rizo-López Foods as a potential source. However, no deaths or injuries have been reported since the most recent recall.

The Listeria organism can cause serious infections and even death in some people, most notably young children and immune-compromised individuals.

Recalled products include cheese, yogurt, and sour cream sold under the brand names Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, Rizo Bros, Rio Grande, Food City, El Huache, La Ordena, San Carlos, Campesino, Santa Maria, Dos Ranchitos, Casa Cardenas, and 365 Whole Foods Market, according to officials, reported.

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