Quorn was contacted on 4 February 2019, after a consumer claimed to have found the nugget in his pack of meat-free cocktail sausages.
In response, the manufacturer arranged for the “foreign item” to be collected via courier from the customer for laboratory testing and alerted its production facilities that a full investigation was to take place.
“Once the laboratory test confirmed the item was chicken, CCTV footage was analysed, and factory employees, working at the time of production of the pack, were questioned,” said a Quorn spokesman.
“Our thorough investigation of the complaint was inconclusive in terms of the source of the chicken nugget. Our food segregation procedures and policies mean that accidental cross-contamination would be impossible.”
The manufacturer concluded that there were only three ways the nugget could have entered the packaging – it was introduced deliberately by a factory employee, at the retailer or after it had been purchased by the consumer.
Quorn confirmed that the product was manufactured at a third-party site in the north east of England, a move to provide extra capacity to meet fluctuations in consumer demand.
‘Same premises as meat’
“More than 90% of our products are made at meat-free manufacturing sites. However, it is common practice in the food industry, in both factories and restaurants, for vegan and vegetarian food to be prepared on the same premises as food that contains meat,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, last year, Quorn opened the world’s largest meat alternative processing facility in Billingham, doubling production capacity of the manufacturer’s core range.
The facility produces 1.33 million packs of Quorn products per week, equivalent to the meat produced by 1,600 cows, while the efficiency improvements will help the business continue to reduce its carbon emissions per tonne of food produced, already down by 35% since 2012.