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2.5 Million Pounds of Meat Recalled Over Contamination Fears, USDA Warns

Dozens of products are being pulled from the shelves due to the decision.

The food safety system in the United States works diligently to keep consumers safe from any potential health risks. The process starts with strict rules that govern conditions at processing and packaging plants, including ensuring that no potentially dangerous allergens have made their way into a product without being on the label. But sometimes, regulators only discover serious problems once items have already been shipped out, stocked on store shelves, and sold to customers. And now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is warning that more than 2.5 million pounds of meat and poultry products have been recalled. Read on to see what items are being pulled over contamination fears.

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The USDA just announced a major recall for canned meat and poultry products.

Tin cans for food on wooden background

On Jan. 31, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Iowa-based Conagra Brands, Inc., had voluntarily recalled roughly 2,581,816 pounds of canned meat and poultry products. The list of affected items includes 63 specific products, including various flavors and varieties of Vienna sausage and potted meat under the brand names Armour Star, Goya, Grace, Great Value, Hargis House, Hereford, Kroger, Prairie Belt, and Valrico. A three-page document with a complete list of the products—along with the UPC, lot code, package size, and use-by date that can be used to identify them—is included on the agency's notice.

According to FSIS, all of the affected items have the establishment number "P4247" on their packaging. The products were shipped to stores nationwide from Dec. 12, 2022, through Jan. 13, 2023.

The company issued the recall due to a potentially serious problem with the packaging.

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According to the FSIS announcement, Conagra issued the product recall after it reported "observing spoiled and/or leaking cans from multiple production dates at the establishment's warehouse," signifying a potential packaging defect. This could lead to contamination of the products and pose a potential health risk to consumers.

"Subsequent investigation by the establishment determined that the cans subject to recall may have been damaged in a manner that is not readily apparent to consumers, which may allow foodborne pathogens to enter the cans," the agency warns.

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Here's what you should do if you purchased any of the recalled canned meat or poultry products.

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Adene Sanchez / iStock

The agency reports that even though there have been no reports of illnesses related to the recalled meat and poultry products so far, it remains concerned that some of the affected items may still be on retailer shelves or in customers' home pantries. FSIS advises anyone who may have purchased the recalled products not to eat them and to instead throw them away or return them to their place of purchase.

Anyone who believes they may have become ill as a result of consuming any of the items should seek medical attention immediately. Customers with any concerns or questions can also contact Conagra via the phone number or email address listed on the recall notice.

There have been other recalls recently related to packaging issues.

Closeup of someone stirring a pot of soup on the stove
iStock / skynesher

The canned meat and poultry recall is just the latest example of how packaging problems can create public health hazards. On Dec. 15, FSIS announced that Idaho-based Mountain View Packaging had issued a recall for its Crispy Chicken with Almonds entrée products distributed to more than 1,300 Walmart stores across 29 states. The agency said customer complaints led to the discovery that the product actually contained a shrimp dish instead of poultry, making the shellfish an undeclared known allergen.

On Jan. 25, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that snack brand Drizzilicious' parent company, Snack Innovations Inc., was voluntarily recalling "several batches" of its mini rice cake bites and drizzled popcorn products. The agency said that the items were pulled due to the potential for "undeclared peanut residue" due to contamination during the production process, which poses a severe health risk to anyone with an allergy or sensitivity.

And on Jan. 28, the FDA announced that Sovos Brands Intermediate, Inc. had voluntarily recalled some of its Rao's Made for Home Slow Simmered Soup, Chicken & Gnocchi. The products were distributed to retail locations in 32 states, including more than 4,000 Walmart stores. According to the agency, Sovos pulled the products from shelves after discovering that a packaging error had led jars of its vegetable minestrone to be labeled as the Chicken & Gnocchi variety. This created an issue where the product contained undeclared egg as an ingredient that could potentially cause a serious allergic reaction for some customers.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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