Whole Foods Shoppers Should Know About This Ground Beef Warning

Whole Foods shoppers may want to take a closer look at meat in their fridge and freezer after the USDA unveiled a potential health hazard lingering in select containers of organic beef.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a widespread public health alert after the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) identified contaminated packages of grass-fed ground beef.

According to the USDA, the impacted beef products — shipped exclusively to Whole Foods grocery store locations across the country — could contain pieces of hard plastic. The issue was first raised by consumers who discovered pieces of "hard, rigid plastic" hidden in their raw beef and alerted the Inspection Service to the troubling contamination.

The agency hasn't declared an official recall because the potentially contaminated products are no longer available for purchase. However, the USDA is urging consumers to toss out the questionable beef, writing: "The products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

The impacted products include two types of organic beef

According to the public health alert, the ground beef products in question include two vacuum-sealed organic meat products produced in mid-April marked with the establishment number "EST. 4027" inside the circular USDA inspection mark found on all commercial meat packaging.

The specific products include 16-ounce packages of "Organic Rancher Organic Ground Beef 93% Lean 7% Fat" and "Organic Ranger Organic Ground Beef 85% Lean 15% Fat" sold at Whole Foods marketplaces. Each product is marked with a use-by date of May 18, 2022. Photographs of the product labels can be reviewed on the USDA website.

This isn't the first time in recent history that Whole Foods' supply of organic beef has been called into question. A study conducted earlier this year determined that a large portion of allegedly 'antibiotic-free' cows used to supply beef to markets like Whole Foods were found to have antibiotics in their urine, calling into question the retailer's antibiotic-free labels (via Eat This Not That).

To date, there have been no confirmed reports of sickness or injury caused by the plastics contamination. However, the USDA urges Whole Foods shoppers to double-check their supply of ground beef and contact a health care provider with any concerns about a related illness.