Before you begin grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner or pull out food from your fridge and pantry to start cooking up what is arguably the biggest family meal of the year, it’s important to be aware of several food recalls happening across the U.S.
The recalls — and there are many — include foods ranging from romaine lettuce and pork to blackberries and cottage cheese. Here’s what to look for so these foods don’t end up on your Thanksgiving dinner plate:
This popular lettuce can’t seem to catch a break. Echoing the 2018 romaine lettuce recall over E.coli contamination, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a public health alert on Nov. 22 for romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, Calif., over possible contamination with E.coli. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) “warns against consuming any wraps, sandwiches, prepackaged salad, salad kits, or other product containing romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California, growing region.”
This is on top of another recall issued on Nov. 21 of more than 75,000 pounds of prepackaged salad products containing meat or poultry from Missa Bay, located in Swedesboro, NJ., after the lettuce in these products was potentially contaminated with E.coli. The salad products were distributed all over the U.S. (Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin). Here is the full list of the recalled salad products, which all have “EST. 18502B” inside the USDA mark of inspection on them. The USDA is urging consumers to not eat “any salad products” identified in the recall and to throw them out instead.
Planning on serving some pork at Thanksgiving? Check your meat. Morris Meat Packing, located in Maywood, Ill., is recalling about 515,000 pounds of “various raw, intact pork products,” according to the USDA, because they were “produced without the benefit of federal inspection and outside inspection hours.” There are multiple products in this recall (here’s the full list), but they all have “EST. 18267” inside the USDA mark of inspection, according to the agency. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is urging people to not consume these products.
A recall was issued on Nov. 20 after an outbreak of hepatitis A was linked to fresh, conventional (non-organic) blackberries from the grocery store Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. People in three states (Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin) became ill. It’s worth noting that the blackberries were distributed to eight other states as well (Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). The blackberries being recalled would have been purchased between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30, 2019.
For anyone who ate the recalled blackberries in the last two weeks and has not been vaccinated for hepatitis A, the FDA recommends speaking with your healthcare provider about whether you’d benefit from post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with the hepatitis A vaccine. If you’re vaccinated against hepatitis A or have been infected with hepatitis A in the past, “you do not require PEP,” according to the FDA.
You may also want to check your freezer for these blackberries: Cornerstone frozen blackberries, 16 oz (UPC code 8 55104 00765 9; lot number GC 1 1092 9; expiration date April 2021) were recalled in October 2019, over possible contamination with the highly-contagious Norovirus. The virus can cause “severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” according to the FDA. “Less common symptoms are low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.” Most symptoms go away within 48 hours, but symptoms can be more severe and last longer in young children, the elderly, and people who are immunocompromised. If you find these in your freezer, toss them.
About 9,500 cases of Breakstone’s cottage cheese are being recalled, as of Nov. 15, over the potential presence of red plastic and metal, according to the FDA. “Consumption of hard or sharp foreign material could cause injury to teeth, mouth, throat, stomach or intestine tissues if swallowed,” according to a statement made by the agency.
Six consumers have complained about finding the foreign objects in their cottage cheese, but there have been no reports of related illness or injury. The recalled products are:
Breakstone's 2% Milkfat Lowfat Large Curd Cottage Cheese, 16 oz (UPC code: 0 21000 30053 2, with a “best when used by” date of Dec. 10, 2019)
Breakstone's 4% Milkfat Large Curd Cottage Cheese, 24 oz (UPC code 0 21000 12285 1, with a “best when used by” date of Dec. 10, 2019)
Breakstone's 4% Milkfat Small Curd Cottage Cheese, 24 oz (UPC code: 0 21000 12284 4, with a “best when used by” date of Dec. 10, 2019).
Serving crackers for the kids at Thanksgiving? Make sure they’re not these particular batches of Nabisco’s Cheese Nips (11 oz box), which were voluntarily recalled on Nov. 15 over a “potential presence of plastic.” The yellow plastic came from a dough scraper that was part of the production process for a small amount of the product, according to the FDA. The retail UPC number is 0 44000 03453 5 and the “best when used by dates” are listed as: 18MAY20, 19MAY20, and 20MAY20. There have been no reports of illness or injury from consumers. If you find the product in your home, do not eat it.
What to do if you find recalled foods in your home
If you find a recalled food in your fridge or pantry (or if guests unknowingly bring them in a dish for Thanksgiving), you, unfortunately, need to get rid of it. “Throw them out immediately,” Keri Gans, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Make sure they are wrapped and in the trash out of the reach of small children and/or pets. It is also suggested you then clean your refrigerator thoroughly in case any cross-contamination was possible.”
Another option: “You could also return items to the store, if it’s not inconvenient for you to do so,” says Gans.
If you realize after the fact that you’ve eaten food that’s been recalled, Gans says, “The most important thing is not to panic. Not all recalls will cause a person to get ill. If you do have any symptoms that you think the food is responsible for, contact your doctor or go to the nearest hospital.”
How consumers can protect themselves
With so many recalls, it can be hard to stay on top of which foods are safe to eat and which ones to avoid. But Gans has a suggestion as far as how people can better protect themselves: “I strongly recommend that consumers sign up for the Food and Drug Administration’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page. You can get notified directly of any food that has been determined unsafe to eat.”
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