Newswanger Meats, our primary processor of red meat products (beef, pork, and lamb), has been asked by the Ohio Dept of Agriculture to issue an expanded recall due to a lack of documentation regarding the safety of their water source.
10 days ago we alerted you to an issue with a water quality sample at Newswanger's. Further testing was done and that sample was found to be safe. However, in doing so local health inspection discovered that the water source used at Newswanger's was not in compliance with state code for a private water source for a meat processing facility.
Routine water samples are drawn twice per year by the local health department. The local inspector had not drawn a sample since November of 2016. Because that was the last recorded satisfactory water sample, a recall has been issued for all products produced between November 2016 and today.
Above all things, we value the good health and safety of our customers. This is our first time being involved in a recall and we are doing our best to do the right thing. Please read below to understand how we are assisting Newswangers in recalling product.
Further, please also understand that this recall is not because anyone has gotten ill or that any product has been found to be contaminated. Neither of those situations has presented itself. Nor has there been any new testing since the second test performed 10 days ago that has shown any sign of contamination.
What products are being recalled? Everything. Everything processed at Newswanger Meats between November 2016 and today.
How do I know if I have a product from that time frame? If you are a Fresh Fork member and you eat meat, you have certainly received some of that product and 90% of that product is probably already down the toilet, if you know what I mean. But in all seriousness, there is a lot code on every package. It can be found above the Ohio Dept of Agriculture legend:
The legend is the state of Ohio emblem that has the plant ID number in it. Newswanger Meats is plant 151.
The lot code is five digits and is above the emblem, and would begin with 16K, 16L,17A, 17B, 17C, 17D, 17E, 17F, 17G, 17H, 17I, 17J.
The product above has a lot code of
Is this product dangerous?
There is science, opinion, and common sense.
Science: There is no science to prove yet whether or not any product produced in that time frame is dangerous. In the interest of assuring our customers' safety, Galen Newswanger has sent random samples from numerous lot codes to three different major universities for food safety testing. Results won't be back soon, but when they return, we will share them.
Without science also proving that the water source was safe during that time period, there is also a chance that there could have been unsanitary conditions due to a non-potable water source.
Opinion: This is strictly my opinion and not advice to you. I have no fear consuming these products. I'll be enjoying maple breakfast links tomorrow morning like I do every morning.
Common Sense: Of the nearly half a million pounds being recalled, almost all of that has surely been eaten. There have been no reported illnesses or food safety issues. There have been no new tests showing any sign of contamination. There is insufficient proof showing that the water was safe according to state standards, not that there is new information showing that the water was actually unsafe.
What do I do with what I have in my fridge/freezer? This is your decision. You may keep it or return it. We are welcoming back, and encouraging the return of, all of our meat products that were processed at Newswanger Meats and offering a full refund. Please read below carefully as to how this will work (as this won't be easy for us).
Will my favorite meat items be available again soon? Yes. But not quickly. We harvest animals weekly and it t
akes a while to build up the inventory that we had on hand. Furthermore, I can't just make hogs and beef appear instantly. For example, I plan hog production a year in advance. A sow has a 114 day gestation period and pigs take 8 to 9 months to fatten out. Turn around on increasing our supply of pasture raised, heritage breeds of hogs is nearly a year.
What is Newswanger's doing to correct the water supply issue? Galen has had the same water source since the plant opened over a decade ago. The processing plant is in the country and no municipal water is available to them. As many rural homes do, water must be drawn from either a pond or a well. Newswanger's was drawing water from a pond and passing the water through a water treatment mechanism before getting into the plant.
Health inspection does not consider a pond to be an acceptable water source for a meat processing facility. Previously, the inspectors drawing the water sample had marked the water as well water. A recent inspection led to the discovery of a pond.
Newswanger's has hustled t
o install potable water storage tanks and is currently purchasing semi-truck loads of clean water until a well and a new water treatment mechanism can be implemented. The most recent water test came back satisfactory and he is now just waiting on the EPA to give the green light that he can start processing again.
Will Fresh Fork continue to use Newswanger's? Yes. I have always been impressed with the cleanliness of his facility, the professional attitudes of his employees, and their skill in making sausages and smoking meats. He is one of the best small processors in the state.
If I bring back my products, how dos this work? Each truck will be equipped with receipt books in which they will record the item(s) returned, the value of each, and your contact info. Our o
ffice will process the refunds over the next 6 to 8 weeks. You will receive a copy of the receipt for your records.
If you would like to fill out the returned items form before you come to the truck to speed up the process, please
If you are going to fill out the form ahead of time, please fill out both copies -- one for us and one for you to keep as we process your return. Please be patient as this will surely cause a line at the back of the truck. We are pulling every possible employee from the benches to help us make this experience as painless as possible for you.
Refunds will only be issued for products physically presented back to Fresh Fork. If possible, please bring the products to us frozen. Products may be returned to Fresh Fork delivery trucks during the public hours posted on our website for each route. We do not hold regular office hours at our warehouse and no returns will be accepted at the warehouse.
Why is the refund going to take so long? This is our first time doing this. I'm trying to set low but realistic expectations. We all pull double duty between the office, farm runs, working the delivery routes, and maintaining our warehouse. This recall is going to turn our world inside out during the busiest time of the year - harvest season and the month before Thanksgiving (by the way, this will not affect our turkeys. All of our turkeys are processed at Pleasant Valley Poultry the few days before Thanksgiving and are delivered fresh.)
Besides your recalled items, we have to physically identify, inventory, and recall literally thousands of items from our very own freezer which we can no longer sell.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
Please write to
with your questions. If you have any difficulty sending us an email, please call and leave a voicemail (800-861-8582.) Our office phone is monitored Monday thru Friday for part of the day, but the call volume we are anticipating may make it difficult to get through. If you do choose to call and do not get someone, please leave a detailed message including a good phone number and time of day to get back to you.
Thank you for your support, your understanding and your patience as we navigate this together. We are still going to finish out the rest of the Summer Share strong and get going on a wonderful Winter Share and Thanksgiving just a few weeks later.