An Auckland woman has spoken of her horror at discovering a
Tegel chicken meal she had just eaten contained dozens of
Last Wednesday night, Amy Skeates was too busy to cook so
grabbed a frozen Tegel meal out of the freezer and put it on
a tray in the oven.
After she had finished eating the Satay Tenderloins, she
removed the tray to clean it when she made the shocking
"I discovered multiple what appeared to be maggots baked into
the sauce that had been on the chicken," she said.
"I felt totally sick, so sick that it made me vomit. I just
thought 'oh my gosh, I just ate a trayful of worms'."
The meal, which she said was was well within its marked
expiration date, had come in a sealed container and had been
kept frozen from the time she bought it at Countdown Lynfield
to when it went in the oven.
She immediately contacted Progressive Enterprises, which owns
Countdown, but received "a very vague response".
She then contacted Tegel, which expressed serious concern and
offered her an apology and two $15 Tegel vouchers.
The company's head of quality control told her the
creepy-crawlies appeared to be mealworms not maggots, but
this could not be confirmed.
She had not had any adverse health effects, other than
feeling "incredibly traumatised".
Ms Skeates wanted to make it clear that she had not contacted
media but was approached by APNZ.
Countdown spokeswoman Kate Porter said food safety was its
"We were contacted by the customer and as this is a frozen
product, escalated it to Tegel as a matter of urgency. We
understand they are investigating and keeping in touch with
the customer. Cases like this are extremely rare and we
haven't had any other complaints of this nature."
Tegel said an investigation had been launched.
"The well-being of our customers is our top priority, and we
take the quality of our products very seriously. Upon
completion of the investigation, we will contact the
customer. At this stage, Tegel has not been contacted by any
other customers regarding this product."
Entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste said it would be impossible to
establish what the larvae were without close examination.
He said mealworms were beetle larvae found throughout the
world which ate dry food such as wheat, flour and bran.
He was not aware of any instances where they had been found
in ready-made frozen meals, but he had seen a few cases of
Either way, dead mealworms and maggots were not bad for
humans. In fact, he had snacked on mealworms before.
"They're brilliant with a bit of salt," he said.
- By Matthew Theunissen of APNZ