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Tucson Tamale Beef Products Recalled due to Inspection Issues

Sep 26, 2016

A recall on beef tamales from an Arizona company was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on September 16th. Over 900 pounds of Tucson Tamale Wholesale Company's ready-to-eat beef tamales have been subjected to a Class 1 USDA recall. This is considered the highest health-hazard category in the removal of a product.

There have been no confirmed reports of people having been taken ill after consuming the beef products, but the recall was for containing "meat produced without the benefit of federal inspection," according to a USDA statement.

The affected products are Tucson Tamale's red chile beef tamales, chipotle tamales, and chipotle beef and cheese tamales that were produced from August 11 to September 13. The products were available in three storefronts in Tucson, Arizona. Consumers are advised to discard or return the tamales to their place of purchase.

For more than the seven years that Tucson Tamale has been in business, the company has sold tamales through their stores in Tucson as well as distributed them in Arizona Safeway stores.

The owner of Tucson Tamale, Todd Martin, said the company only recently started distributing their beef products nationally. This caused them to be subject to both Arizona and USDA regulations. This change includes a requirement that meat must be bought from a federally regulated facility.

Tucson Tamale has always purchased their meat from a local family-owned food distribution company, Merit Foods. Merit Foods buys meat from a federally regulated facility and then redistributes it in different forms such as sliced or cut into steaks. This creates a "third-party handling and repackaging situation that requires Merit Foods to put its state regulation "stamp" on the meat. However, this then removes the federally regulated status, according to Martin.

There is already a solution in place, where Tucson Tamale will continue to buy meat from Merit, but will cut the meat themselves so that Merit does not perform any "third-party" duties. According to Martin, "There really isn't a problem with the meat itself or with the tamales. It's really because of the regulation."

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