Government records obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team show more than 100 Tennesseans in five years filed complaints to the Food and Drug Administration about foreign objects in their food.
The objects are alarming and bizarre. Among the complaints: a one inch metal blade in coffee, a fingertip of a latex glove in a bottle of water, a Band-Aid in party crackers and a cigarette butt in a seafood product.
But the problem could be bigger. The Channel 4 I-Team was contacted by people who found foreign objects in food and never reported it to the FDA.
Paris Hooke said she nearly swallowed a screw in her milkshake.
"I kind of choked on something. Then I spit it out, and it was a screw," Hooke said.
Alice Helton said there was piece of metal in her stepson's french fries.
"He was biting into his food and said, 'what the heck?' And he spit out this little piece of metal. We just couldn't believe it," Helton said.
The problem of foreign objects in food made headlines last week when Lean Cuisine recalled half a million of its Mushroom Mezzalune Ravioli when some customers found glass fragments in their frozen meals.
The records from the FDA state that in Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, there have been more than 280 complaints of foreign objects in food since 2009.
Hugh Atkins, director of environmental health for the state health department, said while the number of foreign objects in food seems high, the majority of the 30,000 food establishments in Tennessee don't receive those kind of complaints.
"The vast majority of those are safely served meals. That being said, if you're the one person who gets a foreign object in your food, it's a big problem," Atkins said.
Hooke said the fast-food restaurant where she got the milkshake admitted the screw fell off one of their appliances.
Helton got an apology email from a manager at the fast-food restaurant when she got the fries, and it read that they don't know if the metal came from a piece of the fry basket or something else.
A spokeswoman for the FDA said they investigate every complaint.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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