If You Have This Meat in Your Freezer, Throw It Out Now, USDA Warns

A new public health alert could affect items you already have at home.

When potentially dangerous food gets into the marketplace, brands may work together with government agencies to protect consumers by recalling the affected items. But even if a potentially harmful product is no longer for sale, it could still be lurking in unsuspecting consumers' kitchens or pantries. Such is the case with the latest public health alert, which targets potentially contaminated packaged meat products that are no longer available for purchase at grocery stores—but that might have ended up in your cart after they hit shelves. Read on to find out what they are, where they were sold, and what you should do if you have them in your freezer right now.

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Recent food recalls have included products from ice cream to peanut butter.

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Last month, Turkey Hill Dairy of Conestoga, Pennsylvania issued a recall for select containers of its Chocolate Marshmallow Premium Ice Cream as they could contain undeclared allergens. Other recalls in recent weeks include various Skippy peanut butters, which might have contained small fragments of stainless steel.

If you have these raw meats at home, don't eat them, according to the new public health alert.

Organic Rancher ground beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a new public health alert for raw ground beef products. The products subject to the alert were produced on April. 20. They include Organic Rancher organic ground beef, 93 percent lean and 7 percent fat, with a use-by date of May 18; as well as Organic Rancher ground beef, 85 percent lean and 15 percent fat, with the same use-by date. Both come in 16-ounce vacuum-sealed packages.

    Because the products are no longer available for sale, the company did not initiate a recall.

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    The packaged meat could contain a dangerous contaminant.

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    The reason for the public health alert is that the packaged meat products could contain plastic. The company discovered the problem after customers reported finding hard plastic in the ground beef products. The company then alerted FSIS to the issue.

    Fortunately, at this time, there have been no confirmed reports of illness or adverse reactions as a result of eating these products.

    Here's how to tell if you already bought any of the potentially contaminated meat.

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    Although these packaged meats are not currently available for purchase, the government agency is concerned that these potentially dangerous products may already be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. They were shipped to Whole Foods stores all around the country, and bear establishment number "EST. 4027" inside the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection.

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    And here's what to do if you already bought the Organic Rancher beef products.

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    If you have any of these meat packages at home, the alert urges you not to eat them. Instead, throw them away immediately or return them to the store where you bought them. If you're worried about an illness, you should contact a health care provider.

    Consumers with questions about this public health alert can contact Adam Bushell, quality assurance manager at NPC Processing Inc., at adamb@npcprocessing.com.

    If you have any food-safety questions, you can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-674-6854 or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. You can also send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov.

    And if you need need to report a problem with any meat, poultry, or egg product, the electronic consumer complaint monitoring system is accessible online around the clock.

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    Alesandra Dubin
    Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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