Batesville Poultry Plant Subject of USDA Probe After Faux "Baby Foot" Found in Chicken Package

AUGUST 4, 2004 - Posted at 2:17 p.m. CDT

BATESVILLE, AR - Members of a North Carolina family were not amused when they discovered what appeared to be a battered and fried baby foot in a package of chicken pieces produced at the ConAgra Foods plant in Batesville.

The package of Banquet brand chicken pieces, which are produced only at ConAgra's Batesville plant, was found July 12 after the chicken was bought at a Lowes Foods supermarket in Durham, North Carolina.

The "foot" was actually made of dough that had been sculpted to include toes and toenails, then breaded and fried.

A family member called police, who sent the foot-shaped object to the state medical examiner's office, where examination showed that it was dough, not human tissue.

Durham police said in a news release that the object had been intentionally shaped to resemble a foot.  The investigation was turned over to the Durham County Health Department and United States Department of Agriculture, and the item was given to ConAgra.

A ConAgra spokeswoman said Batesville is the only plant that produces the Banquet line.

The company said it had taken action to assure nothing like this would happen again, but would not say what that action was, citing employee privacy concerns.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)