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Chef Boyardee recalls mislabeled chicken meals that may actually contain beef

The products may also contain unidentified gluten and milk allergens.
/ Source: TODAY

Chef Boyardee is best known for its canned pasta products, but the brand also makes a line of heat-and-serve meals. On Saturday, the food company issued a major recall of almost 3,000 pounds of its “rice with chicken & vegetables” soup. The product within is not tainted by bacteria or inedible pieces, however, the containers have been mislabeled, which would be harmful if consumed by someone with severe food allergies.

The affected products' stickers read “rice with chicken & vegetables,” but they may actually contain the brand’s “beef ravoli” in tomato and meat sauce. Chef Boyardee's chicken soup is free of gluten and milk, but its beef ravioli dish contains wheat flour, malted barley flour, pasteurized milk and cream.

A batch of rice, chicken and veggie soups wore the same label as the beef and ravioli container. But these two items have virtually nothing in common.

Of course, many soup eaters would probably be able to realize the mix-up without actually tasting the product, but young children with allergies could easily consume a potentially hazardous amount. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) classified the recall as “Class I,” meaning that “there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

Conagra, the Chicago-based producer of all Chef Boyardee soups, first noticed the issue after several consumers complained that their chicken soup "looked a whole lot like beef ravioli.” The soup distributor notified FSIS of the mislabeling on March 8.

The next day, the Department of Agriculture issued a recall for 2,871 pounds of the “misbranded” soup. The recall is in place for soup bowls that read "Chef Boyardee rice with chicken & vegetables" on the exterior label. Each container has a package code of 210090151050045L, a best-by date of July 8, 2020, and the establishment number “EST. 794” on the bottom.

These numbers indicate that the soup was produced and packaged on Jan. 16, 2019 and shipped to a retail location in one of three states: Florida, Kentucky or New York.

“Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” FSIS wrote in its recall statement. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

So far, the mix-up has only caused a wave of complaints for Conagra. According to FSIS, “there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”

If you’re concerned about the soup in your cabinet, call Conagra's customer service line: 800-921-7404.

"Our top priority is the safety of our products and we apologize for any inconvenience this might cause," Conagra spokesman Michael Cummins told TODAY Food on Monday.

Conagra is one of the largest food companies in the U.S., manufacturing several brands like Healthy Choice, Birds Eye, Duncan Hines, Reddi Wip and Vlasic pickles.