Interest in this particular Trader Joe’s product may have hit rock bottom, so to speak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert about Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil, & Caramelized Onion Pilaf with Saffron Basmati Rice, Dark Chicken Meat, Dates & Golden Raisins. Now, you’ll notice that the list of ingredients constituting the name of this product didn’t include rocks. But rocks are what some consumers have found in this product, making this frozen ready-to-eat product not quite so ready-to-eat. After all, it’s not a good idea in general to eat rocks.
Therefore, if you are about to consume any of this product that comes in 14-ounce plastic packages, don’t. Otherwise, you could end up joining the multiple consumers who have complained to Trader Joe’s about finding rocks in their pilaf—which is not a euphemism for something else. In fact, one consumer even reportedly suffered a dental injury as a result.
This alert was technically not for a recall since the products in question were produced between November 1, 2023, and January 19, 2024, and are no longer available in stores. However, since it is a frozen product, you may want to search your freezer for it, assuming that’s where you keep your frozen goods. You never know what may have been lurking in your freezer for months.
If you do find something that appears to be the chicken pilaf product, check the package for the establishment number “P-45322” inside of the USDA mark of inspection on the product. This can help determine if it falls within the lots encompassed by the USDA warning. If you do find the product under question, don’t consume it. Instead, either discard the product or return it to where you purchased it for a refund.
Now, if you’ve already swallowed a rock, it may be a good idea to contact your doctor. What may happen will depend in big part as to how big the rock is. A very small rock may simply pass through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract to eventually come out you know where and in the end not cause any problems at all. A larger rock, though, could get caught up somewhere along the way and cause a blockage and damage.
Then there’s the sharp distinction is how jagged the edges of the rock may be. A smoother rock could more readily pass through your GI tract without doing harm, whereas a rock with sharp edges could penetrate the walls of your GI tract causing lacerations. This could result in bleeding and other types of damage.
Neither the USDA FSIS announcement nor the Trader Joe’s announcement, though, specified the size and shape of the rocks that have been found. Presumably, they weren’t boulders. But it looks like at least some of them were large enough to spot and cause dental damage.