Jeannine Bognar, 69, stuck her hand into the cavity of a defrosted Foster Farms chicken and felt around for the usual bag of giblets before she boiled it.
There was no bag. Something else was in its place - wet, odd-shaped. She looked inside, and something else looked back.
"Oh my gosh, it was just staring at me," the Irvine woman said. "The bill and the eyes, the whole face - the whole head of the chicken. ... Feathers were still on the head. It looked real. It was still alive-looking."
Bognar, a retired court reporter, said she has been a loyal Foster Farms customer for years, but the past couple of weeks have tested that brand loyalty. She originally told her story to the Orange County Register.
She said she recently had to return a package of chicken possibly among those connected with a nationwide, antibiotics-resistant salmonella outbreak that led to federal scrutiny and at least one recall. She forgave the company because it sold good chicken that didn't have any added salt. The congestive heart failure patient appreciated that.
But now, this.
"My hands went up to my face," she said. "I didn't touch, because I had chicken on my hands. Oh my god, I had to get rid of this thing."
In a moment of panic, Bognar stuffed the chicken into a plastic bag - and then wrapped it in another bag for good measure. She decided she had to get the chicken carcass out of her house.
She threw it into her garage until she could work up the nerve to put it in her outdoor refrigerator so it wouldn't start to stink.
Bognar later took it back to the supermarket where she bought it and showed her discovery to the butcher. He seemed equally startled, she said.
"They offered to exchange it for another chicken, and I refused that," she said. "No thank you. I'll take my refund."
She said she does not plan to sue, and she isn't looking for money or free chicken. She just wants to be able to trust Foster Farms again, she said.
Bognar said she called a customer service hotline and a Foster Farms employee laughed at her.
"We're totally grossed out with Foster Farms," she said. "That's a shame, because we really appreciate Foster Farms."
Bognar said she did not take a photo of the chicken, but reporters with the Orange County Register did. View them here.
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