Suffice it to say the meat industry has not been having the best six months. It all started to fall apart back in November when a staggering 12 million pounds of beef was yanked from shelves due to Salmonella concerns — which itself came on the heels of that massive E. coli-induced lettuce recall that had everyone and their mother terrified of salad.
Then in late December, as though feeling the spotlight of Thanksgiving just had not been enough, turkey took a turn of its own at the recall wheel — first in the ground-for-human-consumption variety, and then, perhaps in an eagerness to capitalize on its rare wintertime visibility (there’s no such thing as bad publicity, they say), in the form of raw dog food.
And that brings us to the latest recall, announced by the United States Department of Agriculture this past Saturday. Though nowhere near the scale of November’s, this week’s beef recall nonetheless shows grounds for significant concern: the products being investigated may be contaminated with “extraneous materials” such as hard plastics and metal.
So serious is the consumer safety risk that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has given this recall a Class I designation: use of the product has the potential to cause serious, adverse health consequences, or even death.
The recalled beef products originate from a single meat wholesaler — Washington Beef, LLC., based out of Southern Washington’s scenic Yakima County — and can be identified by their “packed on” date of 12/27/18 and their “Use or Freeze by” date of 01/20/19.
The following products are affected:
- 15502 Double R Ranch 100% Ground Beef: 1 lb. at 90% Lean/10% Fat15503 Double R Ranch 100% Ground Beef: 1 lb. at 85% Lean/15% Fat
- 15602 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 1 lb. at 90% Lean/10 % Fat
- 15603 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 1 lb. at 85% Lean/15% Fat
- 15604 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 1 lb. at 80% Lean/20% Fat
- 15606 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 3 lbs. at 90% Lean/10% Fat
- 15607 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 3 lbs. at 85% Lean/15% Fat
- 15608 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 3 lbs. at 80% Lean/20% Fat
- 15609 St. Helens 100% Ground Beef: 3 lbs. at 71% Lean/27% Fat
- 15518 Double R Ranch Course Ground Beef Chubs: 10 lbs. at 80%/20% Fat
- 98505 Srf American Wagyu Beef Fine Ground Beef Chubs
- 98506 Beef Boneless Ground Chuck Blend Smoked
FSIS has noted it’s concern that consumers might have been frozen for later use, and is urging people to check their freezers. If you are in possession of one of the recalled products, throw it out immediately or return it to the store you purchased it from.
You can read up on the full details here.
The USDA launched their investigation into possible contamination after a consumer lodged a complaint with the company on February 28th. Two days later the recall was announced, highlighting the swiftness with which both the FSIS and Washington Beef, LLC. moved to address the issue.
We talk a lot about product and food liability and the intersection with personal injury here at Howard Blau Law, but we don’t often address what you should do if you’re confronted with this kind of situation yourself. Whether it’s a child’s toy, or a food item that has some kind of contaminant, or any other type of issue, it’s of the utmost importance that you quickly notify the manufacturer and the department of government its regulated by. This will set the gears in motion to start an investigation to ensure someone isn’t injured or sickened.
To report a problem with food, you can head over to the FSIS website. You will find a number of additional links guiding you to the appropriate regulatory body, as well as what information you will need to provide the hotline staff.
If you believe you have been sickened by a meat or poultry product, reporting the issue should not be your first priority. Instead, get thyself to the hospital. Food-borne illnesses are no joke, and with the over-prescription of antibiotics, some strains have become drug resistant. This is why you see us talk about recalls so frequently here: people’s lives are quite literally at risk.
The bottom line is, when it comes to the foods you eat there are two mantras to live by: “When in doubt, throw it out.” And, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Washington Beef, LLC Recalls Ground Beef Products due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination.” United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
“Washington Beef recalls more than 30,000 pounds of ground beef.” Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
“30,000 Pounds of Potentially Contaminated Ground Beef Have Been Recalled.” Kitchn. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
“Report a Problem with Food.” United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
“What Is Salmonella?” WebMD. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
“Top 9 Foods Most Likely to Cause Food Poisoning.” Healthline Media. Retrieved 8 March 2019.