Published March 04, 2009
Talk about a surprise candy center.
An Atlanta woman has a bone to pick with the candy company Mars after she took a bite into her peanut M&M and says she discovered what a local biologist says is a vertebra from a small mammal.
J. Paulette Potts, who works for an advertising and public relations firm in downtown Atlanta, told FOXNews.com that last Friday she discovered the object encased inside a blue peanut M&M.
When her "teeth wouldn't go through it," Potts said she washed the chocolate off of the approximately inch-long object in the office sink and saw it certainly wasn't a peanut, an act FOXNews.com confirmed with several of her colleagues.
Potts is not currently pursuing a lawsuit against Mars, the global giant that owns M&Ms, but the issue kept gnawing at her, so on Tuesday she said she took the object to Professor Larry Blumer, director of environmental studies in the biology department of Morehouse College in Atlanta, for an examination.
"It's definitely bone, and it came from some type of mammal," Blumer told FOXNews.com. "This isn't [a] tail vertebra — it's something higher up, and the reason I'm certain for that is because it's hollow. The nerve cord would run through there."
Blumer could not identify exactly what type of animal the vertebra came from but said that, because of the smoothness of the material, it had likely been dead for some time.
"It doesn't look like there's even a remnant of flesh on this," Blumer said. "This has either been out in the environment for a while and it got into that container, or it went through some organism's digestive tract first. For example, you might find something like this in an owl pellet," Blumer said, referring to the indigestible material regurgitated by the animal.
On Wednesday upon learning of the incident, Mars issued a statement noting that food and product quality is of "paramount importance to Mars."
"We have already taken steps to ensure that the product in question is returned to us and evaluated. Since we are currently in the middle of this process, no conclusion has been reached at this time," the statement said, adding that all products are "tested through a series of strict internal processes, based on recognized international standards."
Potts said she bought the 1.74-ounce bag of candy from a deli near her office. After making her discovery, she said she contacted the company's customer service department and received a case number from a representative. She was later informed via telephone by another representative that a "'supervisor told me to tell you that was probably a peanut twig.'"
Potts is also awaiting a response from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees food contamination complaints.
"I just want to follow this to its logical conclusion," she said.
Stephanie Kwisnek, a member of the FDA's press office, told FOXNews.com via e-mail, "The FDA takes every complaint it receives very seriously and looks into it."
Food safety in America has become a growing concern, especially after the mass peanut butter recall from the Peanut Corp. of America. The now-defunct company was pinpointed by the FDA as the source of contaminated peanut products that have sickened nearly 700 people across the country with salmonella in recent months.
A statement on the homepage for the Mars company Web site reads: "Mars products remain unaffected by FDA's expanded recall of peanut butter products. All Mars products are safe to consume."
Potts, who said several colleagues at her office witnessed the incident, hopes this will be a bone encounter of the last kind.
"I don't know what I was thinking when I bought peanut M&Ms," said Potts, who said she has not felt ill besides a temporary bout of nausea after discovering the object. "I just wanted some chocolate."