Norwood said his wife purchased cans of Allens Cut Italian Green Beans at Walmart, with the intent of using them in a dish for a Thanksgiving potluck at her workplace. His post contained an update, presumably after he received a response from McCall Farms (Allens’ parent company):
So my wife found this after dumping the Allens Green Beans into the crockpot. No word back from Allens……….
She didnt notice this in the Crockpot until she stirred the beans. The cans were purchased at the Signal Mtn Walmart (TN). I have now included the the pic with the batch numbers. The rest of it has to be somewhere.
We have a response back from Mcalls Farms. They apologize and offer a $20 Walmart gift card and a can of beans of our choice. ( which doesn’t even cover the cost of the ingredients nor the Crockpot) I’ll just stamp it and send it back.
This post wasn’t about compensation it was about awareness. Had my wife not stirred the beans in the pot then she would have served this at the Thanksgiving lunch at her work.
This a Frog/Toad , not an insect or bug or foreign debris. Not only that its not intact. This is the reason for posting the batch numbers. These WERE our favorite beans and are for many others. Just make sure you check them thoroughly before serving especially during the Holidays. Thanks.
Four images were attached to the post: the first depicting an unidentified spine and skeleton, second the mottled underside of the viscera, third two opened cans of Allens Italian Style Green Beans, and fourth the lot codes and “best by” dates for the green beans in the cans. We were unable to locate any official social media accounts for McCall Farms or Allens, but a description page for that brand read:
Our authentic southern blend of farm-fresh vegetables isn’t just another ingredient in your meal. It’s a promise that you’re feeding your family a meal made with love and filled with timeless values. So slow down, embrace the traditions and make us part of your home-cooked meal.
Norwood was not the first consumer to claim they found rodent or frog pieces in canned green beans. In March 2016, Oklahoma NBC affiliate KFOR reported that a family in Oklahoma had “discovered” the remains of a rodent in their canned vegetables during their Easter meal preparations. The brand in that case was Best Choice, and KFOR reported that “all the cans of green beans have been pulled from that state and there may be further actions in the future following the investigation” following the purported discovery:
“We started opening them and putting them in the crock pot and by about the fourth can, something dumped out into the crock pot, and my husband noticed it and said, ‘what is that?’” Chelsea Belflower said.
Whatever it was wasn’t green, and it wasn’t a vegetable.
“I just noticed there was something black in the green beans and was like that’s not normal. So I picked it up and threw it. [It was a] mouse head!” Andrew Belflower said.
It was just the head and leg of a small mouse.
But Allens had also come up in the news in previous issues around canned green beans and the unwanted discovery of rodent parts. In 2008, now-defunct consumer issues outlet Consumerist reported:
Texas wedding caterer Dale Cane found a dead rat’s head in one of the twenty cans of Allen’s Italian Green Beans he bought at Walmart. Allen’s quickly offered Cane $200 if he agreed to keep quiet, and assured him that “the Pasteurization process renders the product sterile and completely safe for consumption.” Even worse, this isn’t the first time a dead rat’s head popped up in a can of Allen’s Green Beans…
[In 2007], a rat head surprised a Utah woman when she opened her can of Allen’s Italian Green Beans. That rat head earned its finder, Marianne Watson, an offer of $100 if she agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she didn’t.
Consumerist obtained a response from a consumer relationship manager at Allens in 2008, addressing the reports of “rat heads” in two separate consumers’ cans of green beans. In the excerpted email, the Allens representative maintained that “due to the stringent cooking process, the complete contents of the can would have been commercially sterile and would not have posed any sort of health hazard or threat to the public.”
But they added that “allegations” in the media were “not accurate,” and “none of the allegations were confirmed as fact”:
We are aware of the recent allegations regarding our product. However, we can confirm that the details released by the media are not accurate. We have spoken with the gentleman making the allegations but as of this date, none of the allegations have been confirmed as fact. What we can tell you is that because green beans grow out-of-doors and must be harvested by mechanical pickers close to the ground, it is not uncommon that field debris, insects and field pests may be present in the product when it is harvested and delivered to our plant for processing. Realizing this, we have equipped our production lines to rigorously wash and inspect raw product a half dozen times. Before filling the cans, they are inverted and steam flushed to assure cleanliness. The product is then filled into the cans with liquid, capped and cooked to the level of Pasteurization right inside the hermetically sealed cans, rendering the complete contents of the can commercially sterile. We utilize extensive quality control measures including technologically advanced equipment and trained inspectors. Just a few of the processes we utilize are quality checkpoints including blowers, de-stoning equipment, high pressure washers, metal detection and technically sensitive equipment, which scans the product for color and texture variances, rejecting any off-color object. Our company exceeds all FDA Requirements for food processing. In addition, we are constantly exploring new processes to improve our quality.
Quite honestly, we are at a loss to explain how something like this could have escaped our quality control measures and could have gotten through the rigorous quality process and into a can of our product. We want to assure you that our plants are extremely clean and our processes quite thorough. Allens places strong emphasis on quality assurance, utilizing competent, well-trained people and the best equipment in our plants and Corporate Laboratory. Our company packs millions of cans of product each year and I want to assure you that an incident such as this is extremely rare.
At the time Consumerist published their coverage, another outlet carried additional details about both incidents:
The question remains: Is there a problem in the factory, especially with it happening over and over again?” [Utah mother Marianne] Watson said. Watson said she was told the rat’s head was harmless because the can’s contents were commercially treated and sterile. “They definitely have a PR problem,” she said. Cane said that in addition to notifying the health department and media, he also contacted the company. Like the Utah mother, Cane said he was told the can’s contents were “safe enough to eat because (they’re) sterilized.” The company offered Cane $200 and asked him to sign an agreement to not speak to the media. The company also offered “a variety gift-pack” but did not specify its contents. The offer wasn’t enough to wash the rat image from his memory. “Initially, I thought it was a ham hock, but then I remembered that the beans have no meat in them,” he said. “Then I saw the teeth and the eyes.”
… At first, the company seemed sympathetic, she said, telling her that field mice make their way into the canning facility. Watson said she also was sympathetic at first. “Then I realized that this was just a line they were giving people. … The thing that upsets me is that they want you to give them the evidence,” she said. “These rats don’t look like field mice, an occasional mouse that pops his head up in a field. These are black, definitely, and the head is the size of a rat.” The company offered $100 and asked her to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she called “an insult.”
Norwood’s claim was also by far not the first of its sort to go viral on social media. Repeated claims of dead mice found in cans of Red Bull or other energy drinks circulated previously; relatedly, a cyclical claim periodically holds that various pictures showed cancer in pork going ignored by butchers.
In the end, we found no public acknowledgement from McCall Farms or Allens about the November 2019 Facebook post claiming a consumer found animal parts in a can of Allens Italian Style Green Beans. In 2007 and 2008, consumers in Utah and Texas reported finding “rat heads” in cans of Allens Green Beans, and claimed that they were offered between $100 and $200 not to publicly disclose their experiences. According to Norwood, McCall Farms offered them a $20 Walmart gift card and replacement green beans. As always, the possibility remains that the claim was a hoax, but it was also not the first time consumers reported mouse or rat parts in Allens Green Beans.