Cooking at home can often come down to what you have on hand, which is why your freezer can be essential for storing fresh ingredients such as certain meats and packaged vegetables. After all, no one likes the feeling of having wasted food or money when items go bad sitting in the refrigerator past their expiration date. But if you’ve stocked up on food to put on ice recently, you may want to take a moment and double-check what you’ve got. That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is warning that there’s one meat product you shouldn’t consume due to a health hazard. Read on to see which item you should toss from your freezer right now.
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Food items take a lot longer to go bad in your freezer. But in some cases, issues during production can create potential health hazards that result in public warnings or recalls of items you could have on ice—including a few types of frozen pizza.
On July 15, FSIS issued a High Class 1 safety alert announcing the recall of 14-ounce packages of “Pizza Cubana by Ready Dough Pizza Inc” after the agency discovered the items were “produced without the benefit of federal inspection.” The conditions led to safety errors, including applying the incorrect ingredient label to products—or not adding one at all. Six days later, the agency expanded the recall to include the company’s “Pizza Cubana Cuban Style Ham Pizza” and “Pizza Cubana Cuban Style Bacon Pizza” for the same reason.
A week later, on July 28, FSIS announced that 19,275 pounds of frozen meat pizzas were recalled by Florida-based company Danny’s Sub and Pizza due to a lack of inspection. The affected items included Danny’s Cuban Pizza Authentic Cuban Style pepperoni, Danny’s Cuban Pizza Authentic Cuban Style chorizo, Danny’s Cuban Pizza Authentic Cuban Style Hawaiian, and Danny’s Cuban Pizza Authentic Cuban Style ham. And on Aug. 14, the agency issued a High Class 1 safety alert for a recall of 13,099 pounds of “Home Run Inn Chicago’s Premium Pizzeria Deluxe Sausage Classic Pizza.” The company warned that the items “may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal,” after a customer discovered the issue.
Now, there’s a new warning about another product you may have stashed in your icebox.
On Aug. 18, FSIS issued a public health alert warning about certain ground beef items produced by Hawaii Big Island Beef. The affected items were all produced on Aug. 8, 2022, and were shipped to retail and restaurant locations throughout Hawaii. Since the products are no longer available for purchase, the agency did not issue a recall. However, FSIS warns that customers could still have them in their freezers or refrigerators.
The products include 1-lb. vacuum-sealed packages containing “Ground Beef (80) Fine 1#/pkg” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “134R1”; 1-lb. vacuum-sealed packages containing “Ground Beef (Ln) Fine 1#/pkg” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “135R1”; and 2-lb. vacuum-sealed packages containing “Ground Beef (80) Fine 2#/pkg” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “134R2.”
It also includes larger format 10-lb. bags containing “Ground Beef (80) Fine 10# Poly Bag” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “0134P10”; 10-lb. vacuum-sealed packages containing “Ground Beef (75) Fine 10# Vac Seal” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “130R10”; 10-lb. vacuum-sealed packages containing “Ground Beef (80) Fine 10# Vac Seal” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “134R10”; 40-lb. box containing four 10-lb chubs of “Ground Beef (80) Fine 10#” with “Packed 08/08/22” and “Lot 220808” on the label and case code “0134.”
All the products are marked with the establishment number “EST. 1063” inside their USDA mark of inspection.
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According to the notice, FSIS issued the warning due to concerns that the Hawaii Big Island ground beef items could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The agency discovered the potentially dangerous microorganism when a sample tested positive during an assessment of production records.
The agency warns that “E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps two to eight days (three to four days, on average) after exposure to the organism.” While most people will recover from the infection within a week, children under five years old or older adults could develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) that requires hospitalization. Anyone showing signs of the grave condition, including “easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output … should seek emergency medical care immediately,” FSIS says.
Due to health and safety concerns, FSIS is advising the public not to eat any of the affected products. Instead, they should be thrown away or returned to their place of purchase right away. Customers with questions about the warning can also contact Matt Fornoff, General Manager of Hawaii Beef Producers, LLC, by calling (808) 776-1109.
In general, the agency also advises the public to always safely prepare any raw meat products—fresh or frozen—by cooking ground beef to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can confirm the food has reached a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria by using a food thermometer to check internal temperature.