Why The USDA Just Issued A Warning About Whole Foods Ground Beef

This is a bad week if you wanted to fire up the grill and whip up some burgers. CNN reports that 120,000 pounds of ground beef recently had to get recalled after they potentially came in contact with E. coli. The beef, which was sourced from New Jersey and sold under Thomas Farms, Nature's Reserve, and Marketside Butcher brands, may have already made its way into freezers across America, and authorities have asked shoppers to check their refrigerators for the potentially tainted meat. Many shoppers who might want to avoid this potential contamination may feel tempted to head straight to Whole Foods and buy their ground beef as an alternative.

This decision currently fares no better, as food officials have now also issued a warning over this grocery chain's ground beef supply. According to Food Safety Network, the USDA has issued a warning over Whole Foods' ground beef supply over the fact that the meat may contain hard, sharp pieces of plastic.

What beef is affected?

Food Safety Network found that Organic Rancher brand ground beef packaged on April 20 may potentially contain sharp pieces of plastic. The products in question weigh in at 16-ounce vacuum-sealed bags with use-by dates of May 18 and establishment numbers reading EST. 4027. So far, no one has been wounded or fallen ill after having eaten the affected product, and a recall isn't in place at the time of writing. The affected beef no longer appears on Whole Foods' shelves, thereby escaping a full-on recall, but that hasn't stopped the USDA from warning consumers about the dangerous potential found in each package. After all, harmful contaminants aren't one of the ground beef myths people believe; they can actually prove harmful.

According to Thrillist, the USDA has established an email account to answer questions about the warning. This email can be reached at MPHotline@usda.gov. While no one has been hurt by the plastic, the manufacturer has received multiple complaints about fragments of sharp plastic making its way into the meat. With all of the ground beef issues this week, you might need to re-cover your grill and wait for the whole situation to blow over, or just keep a very careful eye out when purchasing and cooking beef. After all, ground beef may be better than ever, but it's not fault-free — at least not yet.