KEY POINTS

  • The FSIS issued a public health alert for certain raw ground beef products
  • The alert was issued after consumers found "hard, rigid plastic"
  • There have been "no confirmed reports" of any illnesses or adverse reactions

Authorities have issued a public health alert for raw ground beef products sold at Whole Foods stores because of possible foreign matter contamination. 

The issue was discovered after consumers filed complaints that they found "hard, rigid plastic" in the product, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said on its website. It was then reported to the FSIS, but a recall was not issued since the products weren't available for purchase anymore.

Instead, the agency issued a public health alert for the affected ground beef products. They include "Organic Rancher Organic Ground Beef 93% Lean 7% Fat" and "Organic Rancher Organic Ground Beef 85% Lean 15% Fat." Both products were produced on April 20 and have a use-by date of 5-18-2022. They came in 16-oz. vacuum-sealed packages, with the establishment number "EST. 4027" in the USDA mark of inspection. The products were shipped to Whole Foods locations nationwide.

The agency also shared photos of the affected products' packaging.

Hard or sharp foreign objects in food can cause traumatic injuries such as perforations in the tissues in the mouth or throat, or damage to the gums and teeth. In the case of the current alert, there have been "no confirmed reports" of any illnesses or adverse reactions.

Although the affected products aren't available for sale anymore, those who have bought them should check their freezers or refrigerators. Consumers should either throw the products away or take them back to where they were bought.

Foreign matter contamination

Foreign matter is any type of contaminant that's introduced to a food product at some point in production or distribution. For instance, foreign matters may enter a product due to equipment issues or during employee handling.

Facilities that process or manufacture food have separate foreign matter control programs depending on their needs. Some important parts of such programs include having detection devices to remove or limit foreign matter in products and educating and training employees.

Ground Beef A stock photo of beef. Photo: Reuters