US meat major Tyson Foods has voluntarily recalled about 8.5 million pounds of frozen cooked chicken products over fears of contamination from the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.

In a statement on Saturday (3 July), Tyson said the recall had been conducted “out of an abundance of caution” for the ready-to-eat chicken products manufactured at its plant in Dexter, Missouri, between 26 December 2020 and 13 April 2021.

The products were sold to retail and foodservice customers across the US and also exported to Puerto Rico, Tyson said, adding that there “is no conclusive evidence that the products were contaminated at the time of shipment”.

Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful bacteria that causes the infection listeriosis, which is generally caught through exposure to contaminated foods and in serious cases can result in death.

Tyson said it had been working closely with the US Department of Agriculture over the recall. In a separate statement, the Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it had identified cases of listeriosis linked to Tyson’s Dexter plant and one death.

“We’re committed to providing safe, healthy food that people rely on every day,” Scott Brooks, the senior vice president for food safety and quality assurance at Tyson, said in the statement. “We are taking this precautionary step out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with our commitment to safety.”

Meanwhile, the FSIS said: “On June 9, 2021, FSIS was notified of two persons ill with listeriosis. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health partners, FSIS determined there is evidence linking the listeria monocytogenes illnesses to pre-cooked chicken produced at Tyson Foods Inc.”

It continued: “The epidemiologic investigation identified three listeriosis illnesses, including one death, between April 6, 2021 and June 5, 2021. During routine sample collection, FSIS collected two pre-cooked chicken samples from two establishments that are closely related genetically to listeria monocytogenes from ill people. One of the samples was collected at Tyson Foods Inc. FSIS is continuing to work with federal and state public health partners to determine if there are additional illnesses linked to these products.”

Tyson explained that the recall includes branded and private-label frozen, fully cooked chicken products. It added: “No other Tyson products are impacted by the recall, including but not limited to any Tyson brand fresh chicken; frozen, raw chicken products or chicken nuggets”.

The CDC added the recall includes frozen, cooked chicken strips, diced chicken, chicken wing sections and fully cooked pizza with chicken, shipped to customers that also included hospitals, nursing facilities, schools and Department of Defense locations. The impacted brands include Tyson, Jet’s Pizza, Casey’s General Store, Marco’s Pizza, and Little Caesars.