GNP Co. the parent company for Gold’n Plump chicken is blaming tampering in-house for the recall of 27 tons of its chicken during the weekend after contaminants had been detected in certain packages of the product that had been distributed for the most part to institutional and food service outlets.

The recall that involved Just Bare and Gold’n Plump brands by the leading manufacturer in the Upper Midwest comes after the company disclosed it discovered black soil and sand in the chicken.

A spokesperson for GNP said that in its own inspections they found the black soil and sand. There were also a pair of food service clients that called and told the company they had found the same type of material in their chicken.

In a prepared statement that was issued on Sunday, the company announced that the foreign matter had been linked to an isolated incident of product tampering that had occurred at a processing plant during the week of June 6.

One employee, who has been fired, is believed to have been behind that contamination, said the company spokesperson.

A police spokesperson said on Sunday there was a suspect in the case that was being investigated but that no arrest to date has been made.

This recall was categorized as being high, which is the most serious level that regulators apply with the Department of Agriculture’s Food Inspection and Safety Service.

The recall announcement made by the agency on Saturday noted no illnesses were reported in connection with over 55,600 pounds of chicken that was recalled.

The company stated that a lab that was third-party had verified foreign matter that was found was benign natural materials.

Nevertheless, due to the company not being able to be 100% certain the product is safe to consume, the recall was being made.

The chicken GNP produced was done so between June 6 and June 9 and packaged in cases of 40 pounds for retail and food service distribution, said the USDA. The product has a “P-322” that is inside the inspection mark of the USDA.

Just one product that has been recalled was sold at grocery stores. That product is the Just Bare 4-lb whole chicken that has the same inspection mark with a June 26 use by date.

Any consumer that has purchased the products is urged by the USDA not to eat them. The product should be thrown out or returned to the place of purchase for a complete refund.