Simmons Prepared Foods has recalled over two million pounds of poultry products after it found last month that the chicken may have been contaminated with metal, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Most of the recalled poultry is bulk chicken products that are shipped to “industrial business customers,” according to Donny Epp, a company spokesman.
“These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase,” the U.S.D.A. said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that there had been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions related to consumption of the recalled poultry.
The products, which were produced from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, were shipped to locations in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S.D.A. Simmons declined to say what metal was found in the chicken.
“We are working closely with regulatory authorities and affected customers to expedite this product recall,” Simmons said in a statement on Wednesday. The company has already contacted its customers, according to Mr. Epp.
Two million pounds is a large amount of chicken to recall, according to Pamela Koch, a professor of nutrition ecology at Columbia University, who said the ever speedier distribution of mass produced food would make large recalls more and more likely.
In January, Tyson Foods, one of the United States’ largest meat producers, recalled more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets. The company found pieces of rubber in the food.
Then, in March, Tyson recalled 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips after two people said they found pieces of metal in the chicken.
A year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to not eat romaine lettuce, days before Thanksgiving. The C.D.C. said at the time that it was taking the precaution after 32 people across 11 states got sick with E. coli.
So are recalls becoming more common, or is recall information more accessible?
Both, according to Professor Koch. Food recalls are happening “all the time,” she said, and because the volumes of food that are produced at once are getting larger, the recalls are getting larger as well.
Americans spend the lowest percentage of their income on food compared with people in similarly large countries, Professor Koch said, creating the need to make more food faster.
“To do that, food gets mixed together in larger batches,” she said. “It is very easy to spread contamination to a lot of food, and that food is getting distributed very quickly to multiple states.”
“If we want to eat well for our health, the environment, to decrease climate change and to minimize food safety changes,” people have to consume smaller, more locally distributed food, Professor Koch said.
“The only way that could be accomplished is if food becomes more expensive and it takes more to accomplish that.”