Check your freezer and be careful out there

By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 04, 2018
Photo: Getty Images
| Credit: Getty Images

Whine about it all you want, but grilling season is officially over. Just like your white pants, the barbecue tongs have to be hung up after Labor Day. So with that in mind, maybe this news won’t feel so devastating: The USDA has just announced its second major ground beef recall in the past two weeks.

Today, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released a statement saying that just over 6.5 million pounds of “raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef” were being recalled due to a severe salmonella risk. All the beef in this recall is from the Tolleson, Arizona-based producer JBS Tolleson, Inc., packaged between July 26, 2018 and September 7, 2018 and “shipped to retail locations and institutions nationwide.” The FSIS posted a list of all the products on its website, resulting in a frustratingly long, 31-page document. The most recognizable store on the list is Walmart.

At this point, the FSIS says that the tainted beef has affected at least 57 patients across 16 states. And though the outbreak has now been identified and the products recalled, there’s still concern that some may be in consumers’ freezers. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase,” the agency warns.

This news comes on the heels of a September 19 announcement from the FSIS recalling approximately 132,606 pounds of ground beef products produced by Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado. That meat was potentially contaminated with E. coli. The recall only affected a dozen products (listed here), all of which were packed on June 21. But despite the meat being months old, again, the FSIS warned that some of these products, which were also shipped nationwide, could have been frozen. Basically, if you have beef in your freezer, double check it.

Sadly, though the effect of the tainted Cargill Meat Solutions beef was smaller in scope, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only identifying 17 illnesses, the outbreak also led to one death.

Both recalls were listed as Class I Recalls, indicating the highest level of health risk, meaning “there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

Though there are obvious reasons to be concerned, it’s also not necessarily time to panic. According to Statista, America is slated to produce 27.6 billion pounds of beef in 2018, meaning the recalled beef accounts for just 0.024 percent of all beef set to be produced in the US this year.