Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a news release regarding the recall of 226,400 pounds of ground beef from a company called One Great Burger out of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Customers had complained that the meat was discolored and emitted a bad odor.
According to the release, the company had repackaged and redistributed meat that had been returned to them. This immediately reminded us here at Abnormal Use of the 1992 ABC “PrimeTime Live” television show, in which undercover reporters went inside Food Lion and discovered the grocery chain had been going to rather drastic lengths to extend the life of some bad meat. Apparently, Food Lion employees had been grinding out-of-date meat with fresh meat, redating meat that had passed its expiration date, and even using bleach to mask rank odors from expired meat. (Side note: Food Lion sued ABC over the story on theories of fraud, breach of the duty of loyalty, trespass, and unfair trade practices and a decision was reported in the case Food Lion, Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., 194 F.3d 505 (4th Cir. 1999)).
So, you’d think that One Great Burger may have had some clue that re-dating meat is not a good idea, or great for your company’s image.
This recall is a good reminder that when it comes to food recalls, the USDA has three recall classifications, which focus on the likelihood and seriousness of negative health effects from the item being recalled, and are defined as follows:
Class I: “This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death;”
Class II: “This is a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product;” and
Class III: This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.”
The One Great Burger recall is classified by the USDA as a Class II recall.