Customer complaints prompt chicken nugget recall

Posted at 7:31 AM, Aug 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-14 07:33:27-04

GAINESVILLE, Georgia — More than 15,000 pounds of frozen, fully-cooked chicken nuggets were recalled after customers found small pieces of plastic in the nuggets and complained, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Neither the USDA nor Perdue reported anyone getting hurt or sick after eating the nuggets.

The recalled chicken nuggets are in eight ounce boxes labeled “APPLEGATE naturals CHICKEN NUGGETS.”

“The product was produced on Feb. 5, 2014, with a sell by date of Feb. 5, 2015 and bear the establishment number “P2617” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection,” the USDA announced. “The products were shipped to retail outlets nationwide.”

APPLEGATE naturals CHICKEN NUGGETS (PHOTO: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The USDA said the nuggets were taken off store shelves August 8, but advised families check their freezers as the nuggets were on the market several months prior to the recall.

Applegate Naturals posted the following questions and answers on its website:

Why did the USDA change the status of the product withdrawal?
Applegate worked closely with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and in the interest of our customers, we decided to voluntarily remove the affected product from store shelves while the USDA deliberated about issuing a recall. The USDA convened its recall committee on August 12 and decided to issue a recall statement.

Is this a new recall or does it involve additional products?
No. Applegate voluntarily removed its Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets with the “Best Before” date of February 5, 2015 on August 8, before the USDA classified it as a recall. No other products are affected.

What product is affected by the recall?
8-ounce packages of Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets with the “Best Before” date of February 5, 2015. Please note: this is the ONLY product affected by the product removal. The product removal does NOT affect Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets or any other breaded chicken products.

How much of this product is out in the marketplace?
We have confirmed that 30,468 packages of Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets are potentially affected. The shipment of this product has been tracked, and all retailers with affected product have been notified.

Are any other Applegate products affected?
No. Only Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets with the “Best Before” date of February 5, 2015. No other Applegate products are affected.

Why did Applegate remove this product from stores?
This identified batch of Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets may contain small pieces of clear plastic. No reports of illness or injury have been reported. However, to help protect our customers, and to maintain the trust they have in our products, Applegate decided to voluntarily remove the product on August 8 before the USDA decided to issue a recall statement on August 12. Our customers can be assured that the issue that led to this product removal has been addressed, and measures have been put in place to avoid this problem in the future.

How did Applegate know there was a problem with this product?
The problem was detected following consumer complaints to the company. This product was labeled with a “Best Before” date of February 5, 2015.

Has anyone become ill from the product?
No. Applegate has received no reports of injury nor has the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Nevertheless, anyone concerned about consuming this product should contact a healthcare provider.

How did the problem occur?
The raw chicken for our nuggets is stored in plastic containers prior to being put through a grinder. A piece of plastic from one of the containers became dislodged and comingled with the raw chicken. This was an isolated issue and did not impact any other products.

Why is Perdue mentioned in the recall? Is Applegate owned by Perdue?
USDA rules require that the plant where the recall problem occurred be identified as well as the company that sells the product. Applegate is not owned by Perdue.

Applegate is an independently owned and operated natural and organic meat company. However, we work with other companies, like Perdue, to process and co-pack our products, like the Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets involved in this recall. Applegate has strict quality standards and enforces those standards from the farm to store shelves.

Does that mean Perdue chicken nuggets are the same as Applegate chicken nuggets?
No, they are completely different products with different ingredients, recipes and animal raising practices for the poultry used. Applegate has a rigorous quality assurance program and our team not only conducts plant inspections, but farm audits to make sure standards are upheld throughout our supply chain.

How does Applegate ensure that products remain separated at co-packer facilities?
Applegate’s processors and co-packers separate our product and ingredients so that organic and antibiotic-free meat and conventionally raised meat are never combined. Every step of production process is monitored to ensure separation. Additionally, all meat and poultry plants have a USDA inspector on site to help verify plant procedures.

How will Applegate prevent this from happening in the future?
We have carefully evaluated every step in the processing and packaging of this product. As a result, we have identified and implemented the following corrective action that will provide added assurance against a similar incident occurring in the future.

  • The containers have been removed from the production floor and will be replaced with either stainless steel containers or another substance that is strong and easily detected if a piece becomes dislodged.

What should customers do if they have an affected product and how do they get reimbursed?
Customers can return any affected packages of Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets to the retailer where they were purchased for a full refund.

Where can I go for more information?
Customers with specific questions can email us at or call us at 866-587-5858.