Feds Issue Alert After Shoppers Find Rocks in Trader Joe’s Frozen Chicken Pilaf

The U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Wednesday issued a public health alert in response to consumer complaints of possible contamination of frozen ready-to-eat chicken pilaf “with foreign material, specifically rocks” sold by Trader Joe’s under its store label.

No recall was necessary, the USDA said, because the popular grocery retailer had already removed it from stores after shoppers’ complaints. Trader Joe’s had alerted the USDA to the problem when it received the complaints. One consumer “reported a dental injury from consuming the product.” according to the USDA.

“The Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing this public health alert to ensure that consumers are aware that this product should not be consumed,” the agency said in a press release.

The frozen RTE chicken, lentil, and caramelized onion pilaf product was produced on various dates from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 19, 2024: 14-oz. plastic packages containing “Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil, & Caramelized Onion Pilaf with Saffron Basmati Rice, Dark Chicken Meat, Dates and Golden Raisins.” The product bears the establishment number “P-45322” inside of the USDA mark of inspection.

The product was distributed to Trader Joe’s grocery stores nationwide, including California and 41 other states.

The FSIS said it has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products and is concerned that some products may be in consumers’ freezers.

“Consumers who have purchased this product are urged not to consume them.” the agency said. “This product should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.”

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the public health alert can call the company that produced the meal’s for Trader Joe’s , Mama Vicky’s, of North Hollywood, Calif., at 818-583-0003.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

The Food and Drug Administration also announced that Trader Joe's earlier this month has recalled four products as part of a nationwide, multi-year dairy recall that has left two dead and over two-dozen sickened by listeria. The products are several salad kits and a pre-made enchilada dish.

Health officials warned consumers across the country to check their refrigerators amid a deadly listeria outbreak involving Rizo-López Foods products that were sold nationwide.

The Southern California-based company voluntarily recalled several dairy products because they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes deadly infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems, the USDA said.

On Feb. 1, the FDA said Trader Joe's recalled certain products containing cotija cheese, as the cheese used to make those products could contain the monocytogenes. The cotija cheese used to produce the products was manufactured by Rizo-López Foods on Feb. 5, health regulators said. Rio- López Foods recalled dairy items, including cotija cheese, under multiple brand names.

No illnesses have been reported so far related to these products, the FDA said.

Trader Joe’s recalled all codes of the products listed below that were manufactured with cotija cheese and sold nationwide.

  • Trader Joe’s Chicken Enchiladas Verde (SKU 58292)
  • Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad Dressing (SKU 36420)
  • Trader Joe’s Elote Chopped Salad Kit (SKU 74768)
  • Trader Joe’s Southwest Salad (SKU 56077)

The listeria outbreak has sickened 26 people across 11 states, mostly in the West and Southeast. As of Tuesday, eight people were reported sick in California, four each in Colorado and Arizona, two each in Texas and Tennessee, and one each in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One death was reported in California, and another in Texas.

Of the 26 people reported sick, 23 have been hospitalized.

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.

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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