How Did This ID Badge End Up In My Jerky?

UPDATE Sept. 21: After we published Kim’s story, Oberto reached out to her to apologize for the “negative experience,” and confirmed that the object in question is, in fact, an employee ID badge. Read the entire update here.


If you’re an employee of sausage-maker Oberto and you recently lost your ID badge, we may know where it is: A Consumerist reader says she found it in a package of jerky recently.

Kim reached out to Consumerist after she says tried to contact Oberto about what she calls “a very disconcerting addition” to her Oberto Peppered Beef Jerky — which isn’t supposed to contain any artificial ingredients — but failed to receive a response from the company.

You don’t belong here

Kims says that she bought the jerky on Sept. 7 in Georgia as part of her Hurricane Irma preparation. She opened it a few days later and claims she found — to her “utter bewilderment” — that the package contained a completely intact RFID card encased in black plastic, with a metal clip and a series of identifying numbers (which we’ve blacked out in the photo above). Though there is no name or photo on it, it appears to be an employee ID, or perhaps a key card that ostensibly, would be assigned to a specific person at Oberto.

“It’s pretty large, it takes up most of the bag so it’s hard to miss — although the power was out so I guess I could have taken a bite,” she joked.

Kim says she asked Oberto for a refund and a return shipping label to send “this bizarre additional item” back to the company.

“I would certainly like to know the story behind this ID badge and hope that the employee it belongs to is okay… please advise,” she wrote to the company.

Kim has not yet received any response from Oberto. Consumerist has also reached out to the company for more information, and we’ll update this story if we hear back.

She says she considered bringing the jerky back to the store where she bought it, but thought she would let the company know first, in case there are more ID badges or paraphernalia from the factory that ended up in other products. To that end, she hasn’t yet filed a report with the Food and Drug Administration, as she wants to give Oberto the chance to respond.

“I don’t have a master plan to extort a beef jerky company; it was just very random,” Kim tells Consumerist.

For now, she’s hanging onto the ID until she hears from Oberto.

“I don’t have any particular use for it, but I would like to know where it came from,” she says.

Somewhat ironically, the company’s motto is, “You get out what you put in.” Quite literally, in this case.

How could this happen?

Unfortunately, the process of mass-producing packaged foods can lead to foreign matter contamination — for example: metal fragments from the assembly line, rubber bits, or plastic pieces.

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The FDA doesn’t require metal detectors, per se, in the food packaging process, but it does mandate that: “Effective measures shall be taken to protect against the inclusion of metal or other extraneous material in food,” which could be accomplished by using “sieves, traps, magnets, electronic metal detectors, or other suitable effective means.”

What you should do if this happens to you

It’s a good idea to save your receipt and keep the product handy, as well as any photos you have taken or other documentation of your experience.

You should also file a complaint with the FDA, either online, via phone, or via mail. Here’s how you can do that. From there, the agency may decide to investigate.

It’s also a good idea to let the company know, so they can try to remedy the situation and prevent any other customers from finding unwanted materials in their food. However, as in Kim’s case, this doesn’t mean the company will actually respond.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.