There are some places where finding some rubber may be appropriate. Beef—meaning the kind that you may use for burgers—is not one of them. That’s why it was a problem when multiple consumers “beefed” about finding white “rubber-like” material in the Pre brand products labelled, “100% Grass Fed & Finished Beef Burger Patties 85% Lean/15% Fat.” This mis-”steak” has led Weinstein Wholesale Meats, Inc., to issue a recall of approximately 2,122 pounds of its raw ground beef burger products, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The recall includes raw ground beef burger patties produced on March 14, 2023, with a “Use/Freeze By” date of April 11, 2023, on the package label and the establishment number “Est. 6987” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The 10.7-oz. product packages are vacuum-sealed packages and contain two pieces of these “100% Grass Fed & Finished Beef Burger Patties 85% Lean/15% Fat.”
While the USDA FSIS apparently so far hasn’t seen any confirmed reports of adverse reactions in folks who have consumed the products, it’s not a great idea to eat anything that may have pieces of white neoprene in it. Neoprene, otherwise known as polychloroprene, is a synthetic rubber that’s used in a wide variety of things such as leggings, Halloween masks, laptop sleeves, athletic gear, orthopedic braces, automotive fan belts, dishwashing gloves, and other things that you don’t typically use to top your burgers. Neoprene is not the best of things for the environment either as it doesn’t tend to be biodegradable.
A key chemical component of neoprene is chloroprene, which is on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. That’s because reports have shown that exposure to chloroprene over time may increase your risk of cancer, such as skin and lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to chloroprene may also lead to dermatitis, conjunctivitis, corneal necrosis, anemia, temporary loss of hair, nervousness, and irritability.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that ingesting very small amounts of chloroprene or neoprene will cause any health problems. In other words, it’s not clear how much may be at “steak” here if you happened to have accidentally ingested some of the neoprene found in the ground beef. Nevertheless, if you did end up ingesting any of the rubber-like substance, it’s a good idea to let the USDA know and contact your doctor.
In general, avoid putting any amount of chloroprene in your mouth. So stop flossing your teeth with automotive fan belts, munching on leggings, or topping your pizzas with dishwashing gloves. And if you have the recalled Pre beef products in your refrigerator or freezer, don’t eat them. Return them for a refund.
All of this is a reminder to always carefully check any meat that may go into your mouth. Don’t treat your mouth like a toilet bowl no matter how much you may swear.