Nearly 56,000 pounds of chicken recalled due to black sand, soil

Last Updated Jun 20, 2016 4:55 PM EDT

A recall of 55,608 pounds of chicken sold nationwide is in effect after black sand and soil was found in some Gold'n Plump and Just Bare branded poultry.

The recall was announced over the weekend by the St. Cloud, Minnesota-based GNP Co., parent company of both brands, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which classified the health risk as "high," the most serious level applied to recalls by the agency.

GNP notified FSIS that "sand and black soil were found in some of their products," the federal agency said in its statement, which added that there had not been any confirmed reports of adverse reactions from consuming the products.

"The affected product may be contaminated with extraneous foreign matter, and is linked to an isolated product tampering incident that occurred at the company's Cold Spring processing plant the week of June 6," GNP said in a statement.

"The individual responsible has been identified, their employment terminated, and the case turned over to law enforcement," the company said in an emailed statement. "Because the investigation is ongoing, GNP Company is not able to provide additional details about the case."

"Contrary to initial reports, only one of the products being recalled is sold in the grocery store meat case, the rest are bulk and custom items sold through foodservice and institutional outlets," GNP said.

The retail item being recalled is Just Bare Whole Chicken (UPC 024105594057), sold in four-pound poly-bags, with a use-by/freeze-by date stamp of 6/26/16. The product bears code P-322 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Consumers who purchased the product were urged not to use or consume it, but to throw them away or return to the place of purchase for a refund.

GNP employs more than 1,700 people and partners with 360 farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin, producing enough chicken for about 5 million consumers annually, according to the company's web site.