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La Preferida recalls pinto beans after bird incident

DeKALB - La Preferida Inc. said Friday night it would recall a &#8220limited number” of its 15-ounce cans of whole pinto beans after a DeKalb woman said she found a bird's head in a can of the beans. The company promised to work closely with federal, state and DeKalb County health officials in investigating the incident. Luz Marrufo of DeKalb reported finding the bird head in the beans to the Chronicle Thursday. She took the can to the DeKalb County Health Department at about 2:30 p.m. Friday, health inspector Christel Springmire said. &#8220It looks like a beak,” Springmire said. &#8220It looks like the profile of a bird head.” The 15-ounce can will be turned over to the Illinois Department of Public Health next week, she said. La Preferida spokesman Patrick O'Connor stressed that no one has been injured and no other problems have been reported. Customers who turn in their cans will be given a full refund. An official with the state health department's Rockford office who said he was not authorized to be quoted by name said the department would most likely have the can and its contents tested at a state lab in Chicago. Results from the test - including whether the alleged bird head is authentic - would then be turned over to the federal Food and Drug Administration. The official said it would likely take several days to get the results of the test. Springmire said she offered Marrufo a receipt for the item but Marrufo turned it down. &#8220She's just like, ‘What do I do?' and I said, ‘I don't know,'” Springmire said. Marrufo told the Chronicle Friday afternoon that she had spoken with an attorney about the matter but that the attorney didn't think she had much of a case. The state public health official said he had been under the impression that the alleged head had been found in a can of refried beans. Told that it was in a can of whole beans, he said foreign objects in that environment might survive the canning process with less damage. Still, it's &#8220highly unusually for a bird to get in there,” he said. Springmire said David Brand, La Preferida's director of quality assurance, and Bill Strong, a public relations specialist working for the Chicago food company, were at the health department this morning waiting to see the can. They left before it was turned in, she said. La Preferida is based in Chicago. The beans Marrufo bought were canned in Eaton, Ind. The batch affected by the recall bears lot number 5348 MF and is marked with a &#8220best by” date of Dec. 14, 2007. A press release quoted Brand as saying a review of food safety procedures will be undertaken. &#8220There are still many unanswered questions, buxt we have decided to err on the side of safety,” he said. &#8220We await the results of a more detailed analysis to help us ascertain how the object found its way into the can.” He said the company has a 50-year history of food safety. Managing Editor John Kelleher contributed to this report. Chris Rickert can be reached at crickert@daily-chronicle.com. John Kelleher can be reached at jkelleher @daily-chronicle.com.

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