Oklahoma City-based company OK Foods has recalled nearly a million pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken under suspicion they were contaminated with metals, the USDA has warned.
Five people issued complaints after improper materials were discovered in chicken products. After investigating the complaints, the company determined that all five displayed the same type of contamination, most likely from the metal conveyor belts used at the processing plant.
The entire batch of breaded chicken products issued between December and March was immediately recalled, to the amount of over 930,000 pounds that may have been affected.
In this case, metal contamination did not lead to immediate adverse effects. However, the contaminated products should still be thrown away or returned. It is important to note that metal contamination could be extremely harmful to your health, in the short or long term.
While metals are naturally present all around us and can be present in food (as well as soil, water, and air) in low doses, exposure to large doses or even low doses accumulated over time could lead to allergic reactions or chronic diseases. Some of the most famous cases of metal poisoning concern mercury, which can accumulate in large doses in fish; when mercury-polluted fish is ingested in large quantities, it can be extremely harmful to humans. Other metals that can be inadvertently ingested through food pollution are copper (from uncoated cookware or environmental pollution), arsenic (especially from contaminated water), cadmium (mostly occurring in industrial workplaces), iron or zinc (from an excess of supplements) etc.
Source: USDA - FSIS