FORT MADISON – A USDA recall has been issued for close to 2.6 million pounds of meat products produced at the Fort Madison ConAgra facility.
The news about the recall was posted on the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services website on Tuesday. The release said impacted products were produced from Dec. 12, 2022 to Jan. 13, 2023 in Fort Madison.
Impacted products, according to the report from FSIS, were discovered by the facility and reported to FSIS staff on site.
“The problem was discovered when the establishment notified FSIS after observing spoiled and/or leaking cans from multiple production dates at the establishment’s warehouse – per Food Safety and Inspection Services,” the USDA statement indicated.
Subsequent investigation by the establishment determined that the cans subject to recall may have been damaged in a manner that is not readily apparent to consumers, which may allow foodborne pathogens to enter the cans.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be on retail shelves or in consumers’ pantries. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
The following link lists all the products in the recall including lot and manufacturing numbers stamped on the impacted products: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/food_label_pdf/2023-01/recall-labels-003-2023.pdf.
Repeated attempts to reach ConAgra officials locally were unsuccessful and unreturned Friday morning.
However, Dan Hare, Senior Director of Communications for ConAgra Brands, said he couldn’t add much to the statement from the FSIS because the two entities work together for clarity of message.
“There’s not much to say outside the FSIS announcement. The focus right now is to make sure folks know which cans are affected,” he said.
“If people are having challenges figuring that out if their products are affected, they can all our consumer care line as long as they can read the (manufacturing/lot) number on the bottom of it. The consumer care line is 800-289-6014. That’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST. Or they can reach out via email to Consumer.email@example.com.”
Hare said he didn’t know what number of cans got out because the USDA characterizes these types of recalls in pounds of product. He said it’s important for people to realize that the company takes this very seriously.
“It’s important that we put into words what this means to us. This is a community where moms and dads and aunts and uncles have been part of ConAgra history. This is a part of their community and we take it very seriously," he said.
"We have very stringent safety standards and we follow them very carefully. Our priority is making sure people are aware of it and taking the right action in their pantries and in stores.”
Hare confirmed that the defects were first noticed in the warehouse and staff immediately reported it to FSIS Inspectors.
Buck McKay with USDA’s FSIS Congressional Affairs Office in Washington said Friday morning that inspectors are regularly on site in Fort Madison once a day on each shift, but are not on site 24/7.
McKay couldn’t comment on whether or not ConAgra had determined what caused the defects in the cans, but said the establishment will conduct that investigation.
“I can’t speak on that. ConAgra will do in internal investigation to determine the cause of the spoilage. They had to discard 2.5 million pounds of product, so I’m sure they want to know what happened,” he said.
FSIS also has protocols in place to ensure that the amount of spoiled product reported by ConAgra, or any production company during a recall, is accurate, and all product susceptible to spoilage has been removed as quickly as possible.
He also said information as to how much of the product was in the warehouse and how much had been shipped was unavailable.
“In the event of any recall, we will track down and ensure that for the scope of the recall, what the plant is reporting to us, is the full scope. We put people in stores to monitor that the product is being pulled during any recall,” McKay said.
McKay said additional specific information about the recall would have to be obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests.
Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov. For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.
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