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Recalled Meat, What Happens to It and Where Does it Go?

Recalled Meat
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  USDAgov

Meat! What happens to meat that’s been recalled and pulled from the sales floor? I know that not everyone may be meat eaters, but as for myself, I love it! But as many of you already know, I’ve been on a diet for the last few months of which you can read about in my post 15 Interesting Food Facts to Gobble Up. But the point is, meat is quite a bit higher in calories than chicken or fish, so lately I haven’t been eating as much meat as I’d like to.
But you know every now and then a batch of meat will hit the supermarkets that may have something wrong with it. Either some contamination or possible it’s been discovered that the source cows for the meat were carrying some sort of disease. But none the less, this type of thing can lead to the product being pulled from the shelves. So that leads us to the next question.

Where Does Recalled Meat Go?

Not too long ago, October 2002, one of the major distributors, Pilgrim’s Pride had recalled over 20 million pounds of deli meats. Supposedly they feared it was contaminated with a bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes. Now Pilgrim’s Pride is a huge company and I’m sure most of you either eaten their products or have at least heard the name at one time or another. So what in the world did they do with all that recalled meat? I think the exact number was 27.4 million pounds, that’s a lot of meat!


Normally there may be a press release warning consumers that they may of purchased recalled meat or it could be contaminated. This is in hopes of getting any unused portions back from the consumers. Of course the rest that may be in stores is quickly removed from the shelves. Once they’ve collected all the recalled meat, then the fun begins.


As for chicken and turkey products, those are normally sent back to the factory that produced the product. Once they receive the shipment of recalled meat, they will go through each package and spray a green dye on them. This is a warning sign that says, “Don’t Eat this Meat!” Once all the packages have been clearly marked with the green dye, it is then hauled off to local landfills and dump sights. They have also been known to burn or incinerate the recalled meat.


Why Don’t the Stores Destroy the Recalled Meat?

Some business may actually destroy their own supplies of “bad” meat products, just to speed up the process of destroying it. But they have to have special permission from the federal food safety inspectors. Not only that, but the inspectors are required to oversee the whole destruction process to ensure everything is disposed of properly.


Listeriosis is a terrible disease which has been found to be fatal to infants, elderly folks and especially anyone who suffers from a weak immune system. This is why monitoring the disposal processes is of utmost importance.


Can Recalled Meat Products be Reused?

In some cases, the recalled meat is shipped off to other manufacturing plants where it’s processed into nonhuman protein sources such as dog food or food for livestock. The bacteria Listeria can be killed by burning it as long as the temperatures reach at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. So after the recalled meat products have been incinerated, they are then safe to produce animal proteins to feed pets and livestock. But I’m sure we’re all aware of the big mad cow disease epidemic, this had made many people skeptical of feeding these meats to livestock, regardless of how well they’ve been cooked.

So I hope this hasn’t caused anyone to fear they favorite cut of meat. But this has been a real concern among consumers because it does happen from time to time. But we should feel comfort in knowing most manufacturing plants take great pride in assuring a quality product that is not only delicious, but safe for consumption.
Have you ever purchased recalled meat unknowingly? Or maybe you’ve gotten extremely sick from ingesting some bad products? Let me know your experiences with this in the comments below…, who’s ready for steak?!?

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20 thoughts on “Recalled Meat, What Happens to It and Where Does it Go?
  1. Thank you for the post, it was very insightful. It is a shame to think of all that food going to waste though, wish they could save it somehow.

    1. I agree Anna! It’s quite sad when food gets wasted, there are so many folks out there starving that have nothing at all. But I suppose we can be thankful that they care enough to remove it from the shelf so no one gets sick or dies.

      Although some may argue they do it for themselves to avoid any bad press or lawsuits. But either way, it’s a necessary process.

  2. Great article but as I suspected it is cooked and used for pet food. Once the bacteria has been killed I suppose it is ok for pets, but still scary none the less.

    1. It is true JD, but I’m not sure that really makes me feel any better about it. I’m not so sure I want my pet eating things that could potentially be bad for his health.

      As I noted above, it doesn’t always guarantee the meats will be bacteria free….”Madcow”

  3. Thank you for such a wonderful post! :)) Awesome! Now, we know about the info. 🙂

    1. Welcome Emilia, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Hope you will visit regularly.

  4. Another added knowledge for me! Thank you for informing me! Thank you for sharing and keep it up!

    1. Great, glad to hear it Stacey! I’ll do my best to keep the odd and unusual information flowing, this stuff is all too interesting, I have to share it with everyone. 🙂

  5. Hey, unlike you I’ve been going on a diet also. I’ve stopped taking beef and other red meat stuff!

    1. Hi Debashisa, thanks for stopping by.

      Actually, I’m on a diet too. I haven’t cut out meat entirely, but I’ve limited it to maybe 6 ounces a week. Which is cutting down ALOT for me 🙂

      I wish you the best with your diet plan, personally I’ve kind of come to a stand still lately, but I try to keep positive!

  6. and feeling good catching up with the many articles that I missed over the past month! 🙂

    1. Thanks for dropping by, I was just thinking about you the other day, wondering where you’d been hiding out. 🙂

      1. Thanks for remembering me! 🙂
        Just been busy with work. I don’t find as much free time these days.
        Anyways good to catch up with some of the articles here!

  7. It’s a little disturbing to think of this meat being fed to pets after being recalled, returned, shipped – most of the bacteria could be killed through adequate cooking, but what about any toxic byproducts of decomposition? (Or are those really more psychologically disturbing and smelly than truly harmful?)

    Now that you’ve got me THINKING about this, it’s just another data point on my road to swearing off a carnivorous lifestyle. 😉 It’s a wonder any meat is safe for human consumption, really.

    1. Indeed Holly it is quite disturbing to think that our pets are eating these types of waste products. But as you said, the cooking process “should” kill all bacteria that may be potentially harmful.

      As far as the byproducts of decomposition, I have an interesting post called Are Dead Bodies a Danger to Your Health?” that may be an interesting read concerning that subject.

      Thanks a bunch for stopping by and I hope you will continue to add value to Odd Random Thoughts with future comments.

  8. If animals were treated more humanely, there wouldn’t be any recalls. now. the ag-gag bills will not even let you film animal abuse. You will go to jail if you film an animal being abused on a farm. These big corporations are making the laws to protect them (Oligarchy)
    is how this country is run.

    1. Very interesting Jerry B. I wasn’t aware you could be jailed for filming such things. Although someone that were filming such an incident rather than trying to aid the animal probably should go to jail. It really is sad the amount of animal abuse that does go on every single day.

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