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If you bought this meat from Whole Foods, throw it out

Published Feb 26th, 2021 1:29PM EST
food recall
Image: New Africa/Adobe

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  • Recalls related to product packaging are almost always issued due to ingredients being present in the food that isn’t listed on the package.
  • A new allergy alert for a specific meat product sold at Whole Foods stores has been issued due to what is being described as a “misbranding” issue. 
  • The meat was sold in packaging that doesn’t make it clear that it contains milk, and the company is asking that anyone that purchased the meatballs throw them away immediately.

Normally when a product is found to contain possible allergens that aren’t listed on the label, a recall is issued and stores are asked to pull it from their shelves. Sometimes, however, a product issue goes unnoticed for so long that by the time the issue is discovered, the product is no longer available for sale. That’s the case with a new public health alert for a popular meat product sold at Whole Foods stores across 10 U.S. states.

The product was sold as “Whole Foods Market Beef Meatballs with Marinara,” and had sell-by dates through 2/27/2021. The potential allergen that may be present in the meatball and sauce is parmesan cheese which, of course, was made using milk. Milk is not declared on the product label due to the aforementioned packaging error, so individuals with milk allergies may not realize that the product contains cheese made from milk. The company believes that all of the affected product was already sold, so this isn’t an actual recall, but rather an alert to consumers who may have purchased the product and still have it at home.

As the official safety bulletin states, the meatballs were sold across multiple U.S. states. The company says they were distributed to Whole Foods stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The issue was only discovered after a customer with an allergy to milk reported that they had a reaction to the meatball product, and Whole Foods then notified the FDA of the customer complaint, and the health bulletin was issued.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers,” the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service explains. “Consumers with food allergies who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

If you have any of these meatballs in your fridge or freezer, your best bet is to follow the directions from the FDA, regardless of whether or not you have a known allergy to milk and/or cheese. When things like this happen, and a food product ends up in a package it doesn’t belong in, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Additional contact information for Whole Foods is available on the food safety notice.

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