(Photo source: WAFF)
Unlike a typical beef recall, this food safety warning from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concerns a meal consumers can buy at the well-loved chicken restaurant, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. After a customer eating in the restaurant complained about finding plastic in their food, the restaurant contacted the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Reports of the incident sparked a chain of events leading to the recall of more than 35,000 pounds of the ready-to-eat product.
Pork Tasso with Beef Gravy Recall
Fairmont Foods Inc. of Fairmont, MN, issued a recall for tens of thousands of pounds of ready-to-eat pork and beef gravy products. Fairmont Foods produces the pork tasso dish and ships it to Popeyes restaurants in Louisiana. The recall follows at least one customer finding a piece of soft, pliable plastic in the food.
The FSIS expressed concern that the products included in this beef recall may still be in restaurant freezers. Fairmont Foods produced the ready-to-eat dish on May 2, 2019. The “best-by” date stamped on the package is May 20, 2020.
The FSIS has urged restaurants not to serve the product and is overseeing the recall. Popeyes restaurant workers should have either thrown away or returned the possibly contaminated product.
At this time, there are no confirmed reports of injury or illness due to the products in this beef recall.
How to Identify the Contaminated Products in this Beef Recall
As a consumer, it would be wise to wait until the FSIS terminates the recall before ordering this dish from Popeyes. For restaurant staff, look for 45-pound cases containing nine 5-pound plastic bags of “Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Pork Tasso and Ground Beef Gravy.” Specific identification marks include:
- Product code 1F0112
- A use-by date stamped 050220
- A time stamp ranging from 1615 to 0022
- “EST. 2WM” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection
This recall may impact anyone who eats at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens in Louisiana. This beef recall will also have an impact on anyone who works at or operates a Popeyes. Restaurant operators, of course, have the responsibility of checking their frozen inventory and removing any of the possibly contaminated meals from the restaurants.
What is a USDA Class II Recall?
After a food producer notifies the USDA of any type of breach of regulations that require a recall, the federal agency will review the situation and assign a classification that describes the potential danger the food product poses to the public. The USDA recall classifications are:
- I – A hazardous situation in which there is a reasonable probability that consuming the product will cause serious health consequences or death.
- II – A hazardous situation in which there is a remote possibility of health consequences due to consuming the product.
- III – A situation in which consuming the product will not cause adverse health consequences.
The recall of the Popeyes’ pork tasso meal is a Class II recall, meaning its risk is low.
What to Do if You find Something Foreign in Your Food
Whether you are enjoying a meal at Popeyes or anywhere else, finding foreign matter in your plate is not something you should let slide. Hopefully, you will be lucky enough to see the piece of plastic, glass, hair, or rock before you actually bite into it. If you do find something foreign in your food, here are some tips for what you should do:
- Don’t pick it out and eat around it.
- Report the incident to the staff politely. In many chain restaurants, food served in each restaurant was likely produced in an enormous batch. If you were fortunate enough to avoid actually consuming the contaminant, it is likely there are more contaminants in the batch, and it is possible the next person who finds one will not be so lucky.
- In the interest of public health, if you find something in your food at a restaurant, speak up. It is important that staff members know about public health risks so that management can file a report with appropriate agency.
Often, restaurant staff members will be as horrified as you were to find a contaminant in the food and will replace the meal or even take care of the bill.
If you happen to find a piece of plastic in a pork tasso meal from Popeyes, report it to the FSIS online, or contact Fairmont Foods directly at 507-238-9001.
How Does the USDA Regulate Foreign Matter Contamination?
The FSIS requires restaurants and other food producers to report customer complaints of foreign material in meat and poultry. The report must be filed within 24 hours of the company confirming the product is, in fact, adulterated. This chain of events starts with the consumer who is the unfortunate discoverer of the contaminant and ends when FSIS is sure the contaminated products are out of the food supply.
Once FSIS receives the report, the agency will:
- Evaluate the significance to public health. For example, finding hair in food is definitely disgusting, but it doesn’t necessarily pose the risk of spreading disease or present a choking hazard.
- Determine the origin of contamination
- Classify the adulterant
- Evaluate the level of concentration of the adulterant. The agency will move forward based on its tolerance level recommendations which vary by adulterant class.
The USDA Classes of Foreign Material Adulterants
- Class 1 – Items that are not readily discernible in food, often requiring detection with a microscope as they are less than 2mm in length. Examples include: fly eggs, hairs, insect fragments, and maggots.
- Class 2 – Items that do not require a microscope to see, but still require careful visual inspection to detect because they are between 2mm and 7mm in length. Examples include: Maggots, worms, insects, and larvae.
- Class 3 – Items that are easily detected or highly objectionable. Examples include: Insects or worms larger than 7mm in length, sand, or paper.
- Class 4 – Readily visible, very objectionable, and potentially harmful contaminants. Examples include: stones, nuts or bolts, paint chips, pieces of rubber, soft plastic, or machine grease.
- Grade Not Certified (GNC) – Very easily discernible, highly objectionable, harmful, unfit for consumption, and/or exceeds USDA tolerance levels. Examples include: Whole animals, animal parts, houseflies, animal droppings, sharp objects, hard or sharp plastic, barley barbs, or petroleum-based products.
- Special cases of GNC – Visible mold and live infestations of vermin, larvae, or insects are not fit for human consumption and have their own action channels in the FSIS.
Are You Injured Because of a Product Included in a Beef Recall?
Even if you find something potentially dangerous in food, like glass or bone, it isn’t always grounds for a lawsuit. If you find something in food that should not be there, definitely report it to the appropriate agency.
However, if you are suffering injury or illness due to a product in this beef recall or another recall, you may have grounds to take legal action. Find out what your options are by contacting Bad Food Recall. Our food safety attorneys can review your situation and offer guidance.
To request a free consultation with Bad Food Recall, call 1-877-534-5750 or contact us online.