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A Lee's Sandwiches in Houston, TX
A Lee's Sandwiches in Houston, TX
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Uh oh. Better make new lunch plans, because popular national banh mi chain Lee’s Sandwiches isn’t going to be making your favorite sub-$10 meal for a while. The Garden Grove-based LQNN company that owns the 50+ Lee's locations is in the midst of recalling nearly a quarter-million pounds of beef, chicken, and pork — that’s a lot of lunches.

According to LAist, via the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the folks over at Lee’s have been improperly processing hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat meant for their sandwiches. Basically, they’ve been shipping cold cuts that were never inspected by the USDA, which is generally speaking a very bad, bad deal for customers who don’t want things like trichinosis or thumb tacks in their patês.

In truth, neither sickness nor hardware items have been uncovered during (or before) the recall, but this is a Class One take-back, which means the danger to consumers is exceedingly high. As a result, the OC Register now reports that the USDA is going to look even deeper into the overall processing of meat bound for Lee's Sandwiches, to make sure the mislabeling doesn't happen again.

The parent company of Lee’s Sandwiches, LQNN, admitted in a press release that they’d mislabeled meats as having been USDA-inspected, when in reality no such thing had occurred. They also sorta throw some shade on the USDA itself by letting everyone know that apparently the FDA thought their stuff was fine so who even cares anyway?

The Lee’s meat recall is also pretty massive in its scope, affecting meats processed and sold any time between May 18, 2014 and May 18, 2015 (that’ an entire year of dangerous banh mi eating). Essentially, that 213,000 pounds of meat recall number is only the volume of remaining unchecked meat — the rest was gobbled up over the course of many months. Yikes.

Look for the recall to last several weeks as the supply chain reverses itself to capture all that loose meat. Maybe in the meantime try this hidden Silver Lake whole-pork banh mi spot instead?

Lee's Sandwiches

8779 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770 (626) 291-2688 Visit Website