One of university students’ favorite on-the-go meals, Hot Pockets, faced a nationwide recall last week after diseased meat was found in its product.
Public health alerts were reported after the the Food Safety and Inspection Service found Rancho Feeding Corporation was processing diseased meat in insanitary conditions. This meat was used in popular products such as the Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets as well as Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets flavors. In total, about 238,000 cases of Hot Pockets were recalled Feb. 24.
Students such as freshman food science major June Teichmann are wondering how Nestle USA, which has owned Hot Pockets since 2002, could have let this product reach shelves in the first place.
“In this problem, it was the Rancho Corporation that was the major problem, yet the name everyone recognizes, Hot Pockets, became the big issue,” Teichmann said.
Hot Pockets, which were first released in 1983, are known for being a quick and inexpensive snack.
“Nobody is perfect,” senior Rebecca Albini, a food science major, said. “There are things that are going to fall through the cracks sometimes. As a food company you dread for something like this to happen.”
Whether this was an issue that occurred due to details simply slipping by or due to blatant negligence within the corporation, the issue is now inescapable, Kalmia Kniel-Tolbert, food science professor, said.
“There are rule-breakers in every facet of life and the food industry is no exception,” she said.
The food industry, along with the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, control the rules and regulations regarding food production. These regulations, however, remain a conundrum of sorts to most, Albini said.
“I have learned so much about the food industry that I never knew of before, which means there are millions of people out there that have many misconceptions when it comes to the food we eat,” Albini said.
Despite this, the United States has undoubtedly one of the safest food supplies in the world, Kniel-Tolbert said.
She said it is important regulations are current and “in tune” with the needs of production. She said issuing recalls is the correct procedure in insanitary conditions if companies, such as Rancho, want to show the public that they can trust their products.
Kniel-Tolbert said the Hot Pockets issue, though problematic, could result in a positive change.
“More pressure is placed on other meat-producing companies to be compliant with the regulations,” she said.