Is ‘Brisket’ Among HEB Hurricane Supplies?
On August 23 2020, a popular screenshot of grocery chain H-E-B‘s “hurricane supplies” appeared to show a limit on brisket items — the only product specifically named other than water:
In the screenshot of an apparent KPRC broadcast, a news graphic read:
H-E-B HURRICANE SUPPLIES
- Water Packages- Limit 4 Per Person
- Brisket- Limit 2 Per Person
- Extending Store Hours Starting Monday
- 6 A.M – 11 P.M.
Although the graphic was widely shared from multiple angles, it was not immediately clear whether the image was an authentic screen capture or a meme about Texas cuisine:
In Texas, brisket is considered part of hurricane preparedness supplies. pic.twitter.com/sV1TLG8ywZ
— Bryan (@BBQBryan) August 22, 2020
At least one August 22 2020 news article confirmed that H-E-B was among local chains preparing for major storms in the area:
“H-E-B has a disaster relief emergency preparedness team that works at the company 365 days a year, so we have an entire team dedicated to this,” said Lisa Helfman, director of public affairs for H-E-B. “We have extra stock in several of our warehouses for hurricane situations and we do this emergency command center as soon as we hear about a storm coming, so we’re prepared.”
On August 23 2020, KWTX reported that H-E-B had limited brisket purchases to two. An August 24 2020 report from a local radio station included a reference to brisket:
You can expect some of these supplies to include packs of water bottles and generators, but in Texas, H-E-B saw an increasing demand for one partocular [sic] item: Brisket.
In fact, the grocery chain issued a statement that it is “working with suppliers and vendors to ensure that all stores have additional products available to meet increased customer demand. Staple items include water, bread, batteries, nonperishable foods, baby formula and ice. H-E-B holds special hurricane inventory in several warehouses across the state to be prepared with large quantities of food and water to support communities in need.”
On its site, H-E-B maintains a “Hurricane Guide,” along with a specific emergency preparedness Facebook page. As of August 24 2020, neither had been updated since 2019. H-E-B’s “newsroom” site similarly provided no mention of any hurricane supply lists or limits, However, we did find a page on the site, “Product purchasing limits,” updated on August 22 2020. Brisket was among items available with a purchase limit of two:
Providing access to products for everyone
To help protect the supply chain in Texas, we’ve implemented temporary purchase limits on certain items. Limiting product purchases is a proven way to ensure the best service and product availability for all customers. Our stores are in strong supply and we continue to restock products daily.
In an effort to make sure all customers have access to products they need, H-E-B is limiting the purchase of the following items per shopping trip/transaction: (updated 8/22)
The following limits apply to all H-E-B stores:
Food items (all H-E-B stores)
Brisket – Limit 2
Non-food items (all H-E-B stores)
Disinfecting & antibacterial sprays – 2 items
Disinfecting & antibacterial wipes – 2 items
Hydrogen peroxide – 2 items
Rubbing (Isopropyl) Alcohol/swabs – 2 items
First Aid and Cleaning Gloves – 2 items
The following product limits only apply to stores in the Houston area:
Water multipacks – limit 4
The following product limits only apply to stores in the Border Region:
Disinfecting & antibacterial sprays – 1 items
Disinfecting & antibacterial wipes – 1 items
A version of the page updated on August 3 2020 and archived on August 15 2020 also listed “brisket” as having a purchase limit of two. A version updated on June 3 2020 and archived the following day also had a brisket limit — but it was slightly different, with a limit of just one brisket per shopping trip. A version updated on May 8 and archived on May 21 2020 included a limit on brisket along with other meat department products:
The following limits apply to H-E-B stores in the San Antonio area, Central Texas, Gulf Coast, Border region, and certain West and North Texas towns (the following limits do not apply to stores in the Houston area or Abilene, Big Spring, Burleson, Cleburne, Granbury, Hudson Oaks, Midland, Odessa, San Angelo and Waxahachie):
Fresh beef, ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey – limit 5 packages, combined total (not five of each)
Frozen Chicken – Limit 2
Frozen Raw Beef Burgers – Limit 2
The following limits only apply to H-E-B stores in the Houston area as well as stores in Abilene, Big Spring, Burleson, Cleburne, Granbury, Hudson Oaks, Midland, Odessa, San Angelo and Waxahachie:
Fresh Ground beef and hamburger patties – limit 2 packages
Fresh Chicken – limit 4 packages
Brisket – limit 2
Frozen Chicken – Limit 2
Frozen Beef Burger Patties – Limit 2
On May 29 2020, KTRK published an item titled “Brisket, ground beef under new purchase limits at H-E-B,” attributing limits on meat products (including brisket) to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
Texas grocer H-E-B is cutting down on how much meat you can purchase in Houston-area stores.
The grocery chain said in an effort to make sure all customers have access to the products they need, H-E-B is limiting the purchase of brisket, ground beef and fresh ground beef patties per shopping trip/transaction.
Customers are only allowed to purchase one brisket, and are being limited to a two package combination of either ground beef, fresh beef, or fresh ground patties.
On June 1 2020, the Houston Chronicle reported:
H-E-B food purchasing limits are getting close to normal once again.
Previously, chicken, ground beef and brisket were limited to shoppers. The list has now been reduced to just brisket, with the same limits across Texas.
The following limits apply to H-E-B stores across Texas:
Brisket – Limit 1
On August 20 2020 — just prior to the viral “HEB Hurricane Preparedness” screenshot with a limit of two on brisket circulated virally, KSAT reported limits for many items had been lifted; it was not clear when the limit for brisket was raised from one to two, but brisket remained on the list. In fact, it was the only food item on that version of the list, which was otherwise mainly medical supplies and cleaning items
Viral screenshots of “H-E-B Hurricane Supplies” showed “Brisket – Limit 2” on the list — leading social media users to believe that grocery chain HEB had imposed a limit of two briskets per shopper as part of its hurricane preparedness initiative in August 2020. In actuality, while that is true, H-E-B had already added brisket to its list of limited items in March or April 2020; the limit fluctuated between one and two per trip from that point forward. The August 2020 limit of two briskets was higher than a low of one earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, but it appeared that the COVID-19 pandemic, not hurricanes, are what prompted the grocer to limit brisket purchases. However, brisket was often the sole food item on lists of items with purchase limits.