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Fears of metal-tainted meat prompt recall of Jimmy Dean sausage in 21 states, including ND

Jimmy Dean Sausage Links (USDA)

More than 28,000 pounds of Jimmy Dean sausage has been recalled over fears over metal tainting in meat distributed to 21 states, the company said Tuesday, Dec. 11, in a move to protect consumers from products that pose the greatest health risk under the Agriculture Department's recall regulations.

Five consumer complaints of metal-infused sausage led the agency's food safety office to trigger the alert, the USDA said, after the sausage left a Tennessee-based facility and was distributed across the country. No health impacts have been reported as of Tuesday, the agency said.

CTI Foods, the product distributor, began the recall of Jimmy Dean ready-to-eat sausage links made from turkey and pork. The company did not return a request for comment.

The USDA assigned the recall a "Class I," the most serious classification spectrum. Products recalled under that designation are health hazards that pose a "reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."

Jimmy Dean downplayed the recall of 2,845 packages as a "small amount" in a Monday release. Worth Sparkman, a company spokesman, said it represented one day's worth of production in a single plant traced back to Aug. 4.

The company has advised retailers not to sell the products to consumers, although the USDA said it was concerned that the products are in freezers and may be overlooked. Sparkman said the USDA would publish a list of retailers that sold the tainted sausage.

Sparkman said he did not know where consumers encountered tainted meat. The USDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jimmy Dean has relied on outreach to retailers to keep the meat from consumers and media stories to reach potential consumers, Sparkman said.

But he did not say why the company has not marshaled any social media efforts to broaden the warnings to every reachable consumer. More than 400,000 people follow Jimmy Dean on Facebook, where the last post was Dec. 7, with no mention of the recall as of Tuesday afternoon.

The company's social media staff is aware of the recall, however. The company directly replied to one consumer about the issue, but that message is not viewable on its main feed. As of Tuesday, Jimmy Dean had not sent a tweet about the recall to its 13,400 Twitter followers.

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- The product is 23.4-oz. pouches of "Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork and Turkey" with a Use By date of Jan. 31, 2019, a product case code of A6382168 and a time stamp range between 11:58 and 01:49.

- The recalled products were distributed to 21 states, Jimmy Dean said. They are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

This article was written by Alex Horton, a reporter for The Washington Post.