If You Have Any of These Meat Products in Your Fridge, Don't Eat Them, USDA Warns

Meat can manage to find its way into a meal no matter what time of day it is. Whether you're frying up bacon for breakfast, topping your lunchtime salad with chicken, or enjoying a nice steak for dinner, animal protein is often the cornerstone of what goes on your plate. But before you go to put together your next dish, you may want to make sure you're not using any meat products the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is saying you shouldn't eat right now. Read on to see which items could be putting your health at risk.

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Meat products have been the focus of a few recent recalls.

All types of food and beverage can pose a potential health risk to consumers, which is why regulations are in place to ensure high safety standards are met. And recently, meat products have been at the center of a few public health alerts and recalls.

On Sept. 7, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Georgia-based Sunset Farm Foods had issued a recall for about 4,480 pounds of its "Georgia Special Chicken and Pork Smoked Sausage." According to the agency's notice, the company pulled the product after receiving customer complaints about "thin blue plastic embedded inside the pork and chicken sausage product."

Later that week, the agency released a public health alert for ground beef that had shipped as an ingredient in HelloFresh at-home meal kits. In this case, a joint investigation FSIS is conducting alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the item was the most probable source of infection in a recent outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

And 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. The agency explained that even though the products were labeled as "Healthy Choice POWER BOWLS Korean-Style Beef," they actually contained a chicken-based meal containing undeclared milk, a known food allergen. And now, officials are warning of a new food-based hazard.

The USDA just issued a recall on a wide variety of meat products.

On Sept. 24, FSIS announced that Illinois-based Behrmann Meat and Processing Inc. had issued a recall on 87,382 pounds of its ready-to-eat meat products. The affected items were produced between July 7, 2022, and Sept. 9, 2022, before they were shipped to retail locations in Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri.

In total, the company is pulling 64 items from shelves, including but not limited to pulled pork, bacon strips, various wieners and sausages, cured hams, bologna, beef sticks, salami, and more. The complete list of products can be found on the FSIS notice, along with each product's UPC. The agency has also posted the label of each affected item to help consumers identify them.

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The products may be contaminated with a potentially dangerous bacteria.

According to FSIS's notice, the company issued the meat product recall after environmental testing came back positive for Listeria monocytogenes both in facilities used in manufacturing and in the products themselves. The dangerous bacteria can lead to an infection known as listeriosis, which comes with symptoms such as "fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms" in healthy adults, the agency says.

But the agency warned the microorganism can sometimes cause more serious infections beyond digestive system issues. Listeriosis is potentially fatal for very young children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised. It can also cause "miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn" for anyone who is pregnant, according to FSIS.

Officials are advising consumers who purchased the recalled meat products to do this.

While there have been no reported illnesses related to the meat product recall, FSIS says it is concerned items may still be in consumers' fridges and freezers. Because of this, the agency advises anyone who purchased the affected products not to consume them and throw them away immediately. Customers can also return the items to their place of purchase.

The agency emphasizes that anyone in a higher-risk group for bacterial infections and has eaten any potentially contaminated items within the past two months should report any flu-like symptoms to their doctors immediately. Any customers with questions can also reach Behrmann Meat and Processing by contacting the company via phone or email at the phone number and email address listed on the FSIS notice.