(CBS) -- Pilgrim's Pride is recalling 58,000 pounds of popcorn-style chicken sold at Publix Super Markets after consumer complaints of rubber in the product. The Texas company is the third major poultry producer in recent weeks to recall a total of nearly 163,000 pounds of chicken possibly tainted with extraneous material, or in these cases, rubber and wood.
Foreign objects in food is a very common reason for U.S. recalls, accounting for 10 of the last 50, or about 20 percent of the time in the last six months, Benjamin Chapman, a food safety expert, told CBS MoneyWatch.
"I wouldn't say it's a coincidence; if we went back 10 years, it would be the same," Chapman, an associate professor at North Carolina State University's department of agricultural and human sciences, said of the recent string of foreign objects reportedly showing up in chicken.
Pilgrim's Pride's recall involves 58,020 pounds of breaded chicken that may be contaminated with rubber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said late Friday.
The problem was discovered on Jan. 30, when Pilgrim's Pride was told by Publix employees about a consumer complaint regarding white rubber in the products, the FSIS said. While no injuries have been reported, the agency said it was concerned people might have the recalled products in their freezers.
Sold between Jan. 17 and Jan. 31, the popcorn chicken was offered in hot and refrigerated cases in the deli department in all Publix stores in Florida, the grocery chain said in a statement. It was also sold in some Publix stores in southern Georgia, southern and coastal South Carolina and southern Alabama.
Produced on Jan. 4, 2019, the following product is being recalled:
The products subject to recall bear establishment number "P-7091A" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
On Tuesday, Tyson Foods announced a recall of 36,420 pounds of chicken nuggets possibly contaminated with foreign material, especially rubber, following consumer complaints. And, Perdue Foods on Jan. 17 said it was recalling 68,244 pounds of chicken nuggets that might be contain extraneous materials, specifically wood.
Plastic and rubber are common items in food processing, whether as part of a machine or in packaging, so it would stand to reason that pieces would inadvertently wind up in chicken and other food, Chapman said. He noted the notorious case of golf balls ending up in packages of frozen potatoes: People often hit golf balls into fields, and given their similar size to potatoes, one could see how the scenario might occur, he explained.
"It's a good news story because the system is working and there are no illnesses," said Chapman, who noted that hard objects in food are a serious concern, as they can cause choking or injuries such as broken teeth.