updated 2/8/2006 5:46:39 PM ET 2006-02-08T22:46:39

Phyllis Ingram said her 89-year-old mother, Pearl Parkey, discovered a dead mouse in a bowl of bean with bacon soup but only after she had put it in her mouth.

  1. More on Food trends
    1. Satisfy your craving

      Look for more exciting eats and foodie trends on the Bites blog

"I thought it was just a ball of hair. My daughter said 'Mama that's a mouse,'" Ingram, who lives in Erwin about 250 miles east of Nashville, said Wednesday.

Authorities said the incident has been reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for investigation into whether the can of Campbell's soup was possibly contaminated or had been tampered with.

Ingram said she bought and served the soup on Jan. 26.

Campbell's Soup Co. spokesman John Faulkner said the company is investigating the complaint and will examine the can and its contents, which the family has stored in a freezer.

Faulkner said it's unlikely a mouse could have gotten into the can during manufacturing. Every step of production is closely monitored and there is a USDA inspector based at the Camden, N.J., plant where the soup was made, he said.

"When we get a complaint, we take it seriously," he said. "More often than not it's explainable as something not related to manufacturing, or the complaint is bogus."

Ingram said she believes the mouse was in the can and could not have gotten into the pot of soup any other way.

"It's not like the finger that was in the Wendy's chili," she said.

Anna Ayala, 40, was sentenced last month to nine years in prison for extortion after planting a human finger in a bowl of chili at a San Jose, Calif., Wendy's restaurant, claiming it had been served to her. Her husband, Jaime Plascencia, 44, who obtained the finger from someone who lost it in an accident, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Parkey's son reported the soup incident to the Unicoi County Health Department, which referred it to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Department of Agriculture spokesman Tom Womack said the department reported the incident to Food and Drug Administration officials in Nashville.

FDA spokeswoman Sandy Baxter said the matter was referred to the USDA, which is responsible for its regulation because of its meat content. USDA spokesman Steven Cohen confirmed the matter is under investigation but could not provide further details Wednesday afternoon.

Ingram said her family was reluctant to make the situation public but said she thought the health department had notified Campbell's about the incident and the company ignored it.

"It's kind of embarrassing," she said. "My mother is a very dignified lady. Everybody around here knows her. My father was a minister."

Faulkner said the company was unaware of Ingram's claim until a reporter asked about it this week.

Still, the family is considering hiring a lawyer for help with their complaint. Ingram declined to say what the family wants from Campbell's.

Ingram said Parkey suffers from congestive heart failure and other ailments. Parkey has been reluctant to eat since the incident, Ingram said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com