Being able to put a delicious meal together usually means having plenty of ingredients on hand that you can use, including fresh produce and plenty of proteins like meat, fish, or eggs. Some dishes call for one item to be a starring element, such as a baked chicken or fish filet. On the other hand, others can be incorporated as an ingredient into many dishes when cooking on the fly or trying out a new recipe. But now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is warning that you should stop cooking with one specific type of meat right away. Read on to see which product could be putting your health at risk.
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While no one intentionally buys food that could put them in harm’s way, authorities can sometimes discover that certain products pose a potential health risk after they’ve been sold to the public. This past summer alone has seen several alerts and recalls for particular meat, seafood, and dairy products.
On Aug. 23, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert for Perdue frozen ready-to-eat (RTE) “gluten-free” chicken breast tenders. The company discovered that the products could be contaminated with “extraneous materials” after a customer complained about finding pieces of clear plastic and blue dye inside one of the items.
The agency then announced on Sept. 6 that Tennessee-based Magnolia Provision Company had issued a voluntary recall on three of its ready-to-eat beef jerky products. The company decided to pull the dried meats from shelves after third-party testing found that the items “may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes,” a dangerous bacteria that can cause potentially serious infection. Before the manufacturer issued the recall, the products had shipped to retail locations across the U.S.
And on Sept. 7, FSIS announced that Georgia-based Sunset Farm Foods was recalling about 4,480 pounds of its “Georgia Special Chicken and Pork Smoked Sausage.” According to the agency’s notice, the company recalled the items after “it received consumer complaints reporting thin blue plastic embedded inside the pork and chicken sausage product.” FSIS also urged anyone who may have purchased the product not to eat them and to throw them away or return them to their point of purchase for a refund. But now, the agency is warning there’s another meat item that could put your health at risk.
On Sept. 10, FSIS issued a public health alert for ground beef products shipped as an ingredient in HelloFresh at-home meal kits. The affected items were shipped to customers from July 2 through July 21 this year.
The products were shipped in 10-ounce vacuum-sealed containers labeled as “GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN/15% FAT.” They were also printed with codes “EST#46481 L1 22 155” or “EST#46481 L5 22 155” on their side. The recalled products will also have “EST.46841” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection.
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According to the agency’s notice, the affected items could be contaminated with harmful E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. FSIS reports that along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is currently investigating an outbreak of the microorganism where ground beef is the most probable source of recently reported foodborne illnesses. So far, the agency says that “multiple case-patients” have consumed ground beef from the establishment that processed the HelloFresh ingredient.
On its website, the CDC says that symptoms of E. coli infection often include “severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting” but can sometimes also include a slight fever of less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people start to feel sick three to four days after ingesting the bacteria. But while most people will recover within five to seven days, the health agency warns that five to 10 percent of people can go on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The potentially fatal condition usually appears seven days after the infection begins and includes symptoms such as fatigue, decreased frequency of urination, and losing color in the cheeks and eyelids. The CDC warns that patients who show signs of HUS should be hospitalized as “their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems.”
Since the product is no longer available for sale, FSIS did not issue a recall on the item. But the agency is concerned that customers may still have the affected HelloFresh ground beef in their freezers and is urging customers not to eat it. Instead, they should throw away the items immediately.
The agency says that all consumers should safely prepare their raw meats before consumption by cooking them to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. FSIS advises using a food thermometer to test items’ internal temperatures to ensure safety.