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A rodent head found by a Lehi woman in a can of green beans would be safe to eat, the company's spokesman said Thursday. But Marianne Watson, the woman who found the head in the can bought from a Wal-Mart store, rejected a $100 settlement that Allen Canning offered her if she signed a liability release.
"There's no way that product could have hurt her," Allen Canning spokesman James Phillips said in a telephone interview. "This rodent was rendered commercially sterile. We cook each can individually at a temperature up to 265 degrees."
Even so, Phillips said the rat head wouldn't be welcome at his home. "I'd hate to even think about seeing the same thing on my kitchen table."
Watson bought the can from the American Fork Wal-Mart store on Sept. 28. On Sunday, when she opened the can to prepare lunch for her family, she found the rodent head.
The Arkansas-based company called the check it sent Watson a "gesture of good will," but assured her that it was not an admission of liability.
"It's a $100 bribe," Watson said. "It's insulting, and I felt they were disingenuous. I feel like they're asking me to view them as good farmers, but they're just protecting their tails."
Phillips says that Watson isn't the victim, though.
"You can be assured that the people who've been hurt by this is us. She's trying to ruin us through the media."
Watson said that she still will not pursue legal action.
In a letter to Watson, the company asked that she send the head to a lab to be tested. Watson says she may send it to a lab, but not the one recommended by the company.
Phillips says that the incident is rare and that the company produces millions of cans a year.
"If you would calculate the frequency of this on a calculator, it wouldn't fit because the number's so small," said Phillips.
Still, the case is not the first time a complaint about animal parts in Allen's green beans has been made public. In 2005, The Northwest Herald in McHenry County, Ill., reported that a woman found an amphibian leg in a can of Allen's green beans. Brenda Eisenberg of Spring Grove found the leg in November 2005. Allen's offered her $25, a gift pack and a cookbook.
Watson says she made the incident public to prevent others experiencing the same thing. She advises those who have purchased Allen's green beans to check the label for the tainted batch number: 34CG262162.
Allen's regrets that the incident happened.
"Were we disappointed? Absolutely. Do we want these things to happen? Absolutely not. But when they do happen, we try to respond," said Phillips.