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Tyson recalls 18 tons of chicken nuggets because there might be rubber in them

A Tyson Foods truck is pictured at a food warehouse in Little Rock. (Danny Johnston/AP)

Tyson Foods is recalling more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets that may have been contaminated with rubber, federal officials say.

The products were recalled after the company received complaints of “extraneous material” found in its packaged White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday. Officials classified the recall under the Class I category, meaning there’s “reasonable probability” that consumption of contaminated food will cause serious health consequences or death.

No illnesses have been reported, officials said.

Tyson Foods said consumers contacted the company after they found small pieces of soft, blue rubber in the nuggets. The company said that rubber was found in a “very small number” of packages but that it decided to recall 36,420 pounds of product “out of an abundance of caution.”

The company said rubber is part of a seal on an equipment used to produce the nuggets, and some pieces were accidentally mixed with the product.

The products were shipped to retail locations nationwide, although it is unclear which ones. They were produced on Nov. 26, 2018, and have a best-used-by date of Nov. 26, 2019, according to the USDA. Officials said consumers who have bought the products and frozen them should either return or throw them away.

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Tyson Foods, headquartered in Arkansas, produces a variety of packaged and precooked chicken meals and has a slaughtering and processing facility in Missouri, where the possibly contaminated products originated.

The company recalled about 3,000 pounds of its frozen breaded products last year over concerns that they contained soft plastic. In 2016, the company recalled 132,000 pounds of chicken nuggets that may have been contaminated with hard plastic. In 2015, the company recalled 52,000 pounds of chicken wings because of an “off odor.” It also recalled 16,000 pounds of its ground beef products that same year over possible E. coli contaminations.

Several other companies recalled chicken products in the past month. Perdue Foods and Harvest Food recalled thousands of pounds of ready-to-eat chicken meals because of “misbranding and undeclared allergens.” The companies' products contain milk, a known allergen, but it was not specified on the labels.

Perdue Foods also recently recalled 68,000 pounds of chicken nuggets that may have been contaminated with wood, officials said.

Another meat product, a raw ground pork patty produced by Johnsonville, was recalled this month over fears of possibly containing black rubber, officials said.

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