Not so tasty chicken
Breaded cutlettes turn the noses of Spaniard’s Bay family
Officials with Country Ribbon Inc. in St. John’s and Powell’s Supermarket in Bay Roberts say they are at a loss to explain how a box of frozen chicken strips purchased by a family in Spaniard’s Bay last month turned out to be mouldy.
Stephen Neil said the 600 gram box of seasoned, breaded cutlettes was purchased on Friday, Jan. 21.
Later that evening, Neil chopped some of the strips into pieces to put into tacos. He put some in the deep fryer, but when he tasted a piece, he retched in disgust.
Neil said he ran to the bathroom and forced himself to vomit. “It was gross,” Neil said. He started examining the chicken, and noticed what appeared to be green mould on some pieces, and some of the chicken had turned a deep orange colour. He stuck his nose into the bag and noticed a very unpleasant smell.
Neil took out his video camera and started recording images of the chicken. He called Powell’s the next day to complain, and on Monday, Jan. 24, contacted Country Ribbon, this province’s only fully-integrated chicken producer and processor.
He also called The Compass, saying he wanted to share his story to make sure others do not have a similar experience.
“It was awful,” he said, adding that his wife and two young children, ages three and seven months, could have been made seriously ill if they consumed the chicken.
With food safety issues having made national headlines in recent years, he also decided to make contact with a lawyer, noting, “I wouldn’t mind being rich.” He later said he has no plans to take legal action.
Neil initially refused to turn over a sample of the chicken to either Country Ribbon or Powell’s, fearing his concerns would be “swept under the rug.”
He finally agreed to turn over a sample on Jan. 25, and the quality assurance experts at Country Ribbon confirmed the chicken was mouldy, indicating it had been thawed for an extended period before being cooked.
Neil produced the receipt, showing proof of his purchase on Jan. 21, and pointed out the April 28, 2011 expiry date on the box. “ We only had it for an hour or two,” he said. He said he planned to stop buying boxed, frozen products, and said his confidence in Country Ribbon had been shaken.
He said the company’s processing facility is federally inspected, and quality assurance standards are very high. He added that “ many hundreds” of boxes were produced at the same time, and there have been no other complaints.
“ We’re not sure where the mould originated, but we are continuing to investigate further,” he said. “ We have very good products, and we take these types of issues very seriously.”
A spokesperson for Powell’s Supermarket, Brent Bugden, said the company followed proper protocol in responding to Neil’s complaint.
He said the customer was offered a refund, and similar products were checked to see if there were other problems.
“ We did and didn’t find anything,” he said, adding that such incidents are “ very rare.”
Neil stressed that his only reason for speaking out was “ the safety of my family.”
Stephen Neil of Spaniard’s Bay displays a handful of chicken pieces that was purchased on Jan. 21.