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Massive raw chicken recall and the dangers lurking at the store

There are many rules about how to properly handle uncooked poultry that people should follow in both their home kitchens and in restaurants to prevent food-borne illnesses. To keep people safe, poultry must come from inspected processing plants. Refrigeration or freezing of uncooked chicken is necessary to prevent bacterial growth.

Timely cooking to an appropriate internal temperature and the careful chilling of any leftovers intended to be reheated and consumed later are also important for preventing food-borne illness among those who eat chicken and other kinds of poultry. One risk factor most chefs won't be looking for is the potential presence of tiny pieces of metal in the chicken they intend to cook.

Unfortunately, as of November 2019, that exact issue has led to a massive chicken recall. Specifically, the recent poultry recall demonstrates how industrial food processing can reduce certain risks while generating completely new and often unanticipated risks for consumers.

2 million pounds of chicken got recalled

The company Simmons Prepared Foods, Inc. has had to issue a recall of more than two million pounds of chicken products potentially contaminated by small pieces of metal. Consumers are advised to return or destroy any potentially contaminated products included in the recall, as consuming metal could lead to a variety of serious issues, including perforation of the organs or intestinal blockage.

Although Kentucky is not among the states with notable levels of recalled poultry products this time (the states involved are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania), the sheer quantity of meat involved, as well as the serious risks posed by ingesting metal, make this recall noteworthy for all American consumers.

Foods improperly processed put trusting consumers at risk

Food recalls in some ways are more dangerous than durable goods recalls, as the window for use is much smaller. By the time someone finds out there was an issue with a food product, a large number of consumers may have already consumed it, cooked it for their families or even served it in a restaurant.

Recalls can help keep people from using defective products, but those who get hurt before the recall or who don't receive timely warning of a recall can wind up hurt and forced to deal with lost wages and medical bills.

Consumers have the right to certain expectations and protections under the law. It is reasonable to assume that processed meat purchased in a retail store would be safe to cook and consume. Anyone who winds up sickened or injured as a result of contamination, whether it is bacterial or metallic, as in the case of this recall, may have rights under the law to seek compensation for lost wages and medical costs.

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