The Voice Mail You Get If Your Hot Pockets (Maybe) Include Meat From “Unsound Animals”

What to eat. What not to eat.
Feb. 19 2014 5:57 PM

This Is Cindy With Giant Food Calling ​...

The voice mail you get if your Hot Pockets (maybe) include meat from "unsound animals."

Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pocket Sandwiches.
May contain “unwholesome meat products.”

Image via Nestlé

Last Friday, Nestlé USA announced a voluntary recall of two varieties of Hot Pockets: Philly Steak and Cheese and Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese. As the Atlantic Wire explained, this big Hot Pocket news resulted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recall of 8.7 million pounds of “unwholesome meat products”—including boxes of beef carcasses, beef blood, beef hearts, and veal bones among other goodies—from Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif. The USDA’s explanation: Rancho Feeding Corporation “processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection.”

Josh Levin Josh Levin

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

So, what happens if you bought one of these unfortunate, potentially diseased Hot Pockets? George Hatcher, who lives in Annapolis, Md., purchased some Hot Pockets at a Giant Food store a couple of weeks ago—he says he went for the Philly Steak and Cheese variety because it was on sale. (He typically prefers the Meatballs and Mozzarella and Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar.) The 28-year-old was not impressed with this variety of Hot Pocket. He ate one of the two pockets and has yet to eat the other. It’s not that it tasted off—it just was “not very good.”

On Monday night, long after he’d forgotten about that unsatisfactory pocket experience, Hatcher got a voice mail from Giant. The grocery chain had bad news about his Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets.

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Hatcher says he’s not particularly concerned about possibly having eaten diseased animals. He notes that when you invest in a Hot Pocket, you’re not really thinking about your health. He was more disturbed (and also kind of impressed) that Giant managed to track him down to tell him about the recall. It’s unlikely that there was a tracking device in his Hot Pocket. The grocery chain presumably linked Hatcher’s snack purchases to his cellphone number via his Giant loyalty card.

Since he didn’t keep his receipt, Hatcher will not be taking advantage of Giant’s refund offer. And what of the fate of that second, uneaten Hot Pocket? Hatcher says he’s going to wait it out and see if there’s any news of potential side effects. “I’m a firm believer in never throwing away food,” he says, “even a Hot Pocket.”

Now, for your records, here is a complete transcript of Giant’s Hot Pockets recall voice mail:

This is Cindy with Giant Food calling with important product recall information. Hot Pockets Philly Steak and Cheese have been recalled as the result of the Rancho Feeding Corporation recall of meat products. The USDA announced a recall of Rancho Feeding Corporation meat products due to unwholesome meat products because they were produced without all required inspections.
The following products are included in this recall: Hot Pockets Philly Steak and Cheese, 9 ounce, UPC 4369507107; Hot Pockets Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese, 9 ounce, UPC 4369505634; and Hot Pockets Philly Steak and Cheese, 54 ounce, UPC 4369507520.
Customers who have purchased these products should discard any unused portions and bring their purchase receipt to a nearby store for a full refund. For more information, including batch numbers and best-before dates, please call 800-443-2693. That number again is 800-443-2693. Thank you.    

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

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