If you’re looking to keep mealtime less stressful, it can pay to have plenty of food in your freezer at your disposal. Stocking everything from packaged ingredients like veggies or meats to entire meals like frozen pizzas can make it less likely you’ll come up shorthanded when it’s time to eat. But the next time you’re rummaging around the freezer, you may want to be on the lookout for specific chicken and beef products after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health warning. Read on to see which items you should throw away immediately.
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It’s the job of health agencies to ensure that companies are living up to the strict regulations and standards set to keep the public safe. And while plenty of focus goes into ensuring that no potentially harmful products make their way onto shelves, some items occasionally end up as the focus of a recall only after they’ve been shipped to stores and sold to customers. This can be true of fresh and frozen meat, poultry, and seafood products, including several recent examples.
On Sept. 6, the FDA announced that Tennessee-based Magnolia Provision Company had issued a voluntary recall on three of its ready-to-eat beef jerky products. Third-party testing of the items found that they “may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes,” a dangerous bacteria that can cause potentially serious infection. As a result, customers were advised to throw away the affected items or to return them to their place of purchase.
The following day, FSIS announced that Georgia-based Sunset Farm Foods was recalling about 4,480 pounds of its “Georgia Special Chicken and Pork Smoked Sausage.” In this case, the company decided to pull the product from shelves after it received consumer complaints reporting thin blue plastic embedded inside the pork and chicken sausage product.”
And on Sept. 10, FSIS issued a public health alert for ground beef that had shipped as an ingredient in HelloFresh at-home meal kits. The agency warned that the item might be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria after an investigation it’s conducting along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established it as the most probable source of infection in a recent outbreak. And now, two more meat products are the subject of health alerts.
On Sept. 17, FSIS announced that Texas-based Valley International Cold Storage Acquisition, LLC had issued a recall on roughly 22,061 pounds of its frozen beef products. Specifically, the item is labeled as “Healthy Choice POWER BOWLS Korean-Style Beef” and is packaged in 9.25-ounce cartons. Products subject to the recall will have the lot code “5246220320” and a “best if used by” date of 04-18-2023 printed on the packaging as well. In addition, the establishment number “34622” will also be printed on the carton’s end flap.
According to the agency’s notice, the company issued the recall after receiving complaints from customers that the cartons labeled as Korean-style beef actually contained a chicken-based product. The agency says that this mislabeling means the frozen item contains undeclared milk, a known food allergen.
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But it’s not just beef-based products that are the focus of recent recalls. On Sept. 16, FSIS issued a public health alert for raw, ready-to-cook chicken meals. The item is packaged in 12-ounce metal containers wrapped in plastic and labeled as “aprons READY TO COOK MEAL FOR ONE BACON-CHEDDAR SMOTHERED CHICKEN,” and is printed with a use-by date of 9/21/2022 and the establishment number “P-48176” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The notice specifies that the affected product was shipped to Publix supermarket locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Similar to the beef recall, the agency issued the alert because the product may contain egg, a known food allergen. It became aware of the issue after consumers contacted the agency to report that the product was incorrectly labeled with information meant for a chicken cordon bleu item that does not contain egg. The undeclared ingredient poses a potentially serious risk for those who have an egg allergy.
According to USDA, neither the recalled beef product nor the chicken item has been linked to any adverse health reactions. However, they advise that anyone who believes they may have become ill from eating either should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
In both cases, the agency says that consumers who purchased the recalled items should not consume them and throw them away immediately—especially if they have a food allergy. Otherwise, they can also be returned to their place of purchase. Customers with further questions or concerns can also contact the respective companies by calling the phone numbers listed on the health notices.