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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Are JBS Swift E. coli Recalls Linked to Illnesses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin? Canada?

Sometime in the early hours of June 28, JBS Swift Beef Company expanded the approximately 40,000 pounds of “assorted beef primals” recalled on June 24 to include another approximately 380,000 pounds of “assorted beef primals" due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

So, are the illnesses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin? More than these eleven? Are these the only States that received product? Where internationally did the meat go (are the three Canadian cases somehow linked)? Which restaurants, grocery stores, schools, hospitals did the product land?

As reported by the FSIS:

Together with traceback information and laboratory data, the recall is being expanded as a result of FSIS’ cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an ongoing investigation into 24 illnesses in multiple states, of which at least 18 appear to be associated.

The beef products were produced on April 21, 2009 and were distributed both nationally and internationally. A list of the products subject to the expanded recall attached – 104 Pages.

Each box bears the establishment number "EST. 969" inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as the identifying package date of "042109" and a time stamp ranging from "0618" to "1130." However, these products were sent to establishments and retail stores nationwide for further processing and will likely not bear the establishment number "EST. 969" on products available for direct consumer purchase. Customers with concerns should contact their point of purchase.

The recalled products include intact cuts of beef, such as primals, sub-primals, or boxed beef typically used for steaks and roasts rather than ground beef. FSIS is aware that some of these products may have been further processed into ground products by other companies. The highest risk products for consumers are raw ground product, trim or other non-intact product made from the products subject to the recall.

  • Tom

    Do you know what stores sold this meat ? Target ?

  • Tom

    What stores are selling this ?

  • John Munsell

    Yes, it is consumer-worthy to reveal the destination facilities where this contaminated meat was shipped, for consumer right-to-know. It is also important to note that USDA’s official stance is that these destination facilities (restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc) are guilty of inappropriate handling of intact products! USDA states that trim from intact beef products are “HIGH RISK”, and that they shouldn’t be ground up unless additional interventions are first applied to these “High Risk” products to make them safe for consumption. Think about this ugly scenario: slaughter plants devise an absolutely bullet-proof HACCP Plan, which includes all known scientific principles which enable the plants to produce meat which should be consistently safe and wholesome….in theory anyway. Truthfully, the HACCP Plans at the big slaughter establishments are a sight to behold, especially when we observe their highly heralded “Multiple Hurdle Pathogen Intervention System”, installed at a cost of several millions, capable of removing all pathogens……in theory. Armed with such indisputable evidence, USDA assigns inspectors to those plants. These facilities then produce and ship intact products into commerce in boxes proudly bearing the official USDA Mark of Inspection which states “Inspected and Passed”. Oh, and I forgot to tell you……..when customers further process this product and grind the trim, well, um, in spite of the fact that the meat emanated from these ultra-sanitary slaughter facilities, the trim is, well, don’t know how to tell you this, but yeah, I guess it’s best to admit to you that the trim is high risk for E.coli, so don’t grind it unless you irradiate it or treat it with lactic acid to kill the pathogens first! Huh? Now wait a minute! I thought the meat came from slaughter facilities inundated with all the latest scientific gadgets which purportedly prevent the production of pathogen-laden meat? Well, yes, but nevertheless, all trim derived from processing the meat is considered “HIGH RISK” by USDA. If so, why does USDA allow such meat to be shipped into commerce in the first place, and to bear the agency’s official mark of inspection? The official Mark states “USDA Inspected & Passed”. Well, if USDA “PASSES” the product, how can the agency state in the next breath that it is “High Risk”? The logical conclusion is that these deadly pathogens are being INTRODUCED into the meat during the grinding operation, since the meat up till that time bore the official mark of inspection. So, if the agency is truly the consumers’ best friend, USDA should outlaw grinding equipment, and our problems would immediately disappear. Until USDA is forced to sit down in front of Congress and try to justify these obviously faulty policies, bad meat will continued to be produced, consumers will be sickened, some will die, and the quantity of outbreaks and recalls will continue to increase. USDA’s only reply will be “We fully endorse HACCP, because it is science based”. Well, the truth of the matter is that the only connection HACCP has to science is political science. John Munsell

  • John Munsell

    Before we praise USDA too highly for their role in accomplishing this recall, let’s ask why the agency hasn’t successfully accomplished tracebacks to the source slaughter plants in a high percentage of recalls earlier this year and this century. My perception is this, and this is pure conjecture: the news releases show that CDC has been involved in investigations into many sicknesses in numerous states which are now linked via genetic matches. This didn’t happen overnight, realizing that the meat was produced two months ago, and consumers have been getting sick for weeks. I speculate that CDC has armed itself with indisputable evidence of the common cause of the outbreaks in several states. Upon its successful investigation, CDC went to USDA with its incontrovertible evidence, and proved that the JBS-Swift plant was the origin. Well, what could USDA do under the circumstances? Tell CDC to jump in a lake? If my conjecture is right, USDA cannot take any credit for this investigation, but is being forced against its own will (& policies) to regretfully “suggest” to JBS Swift that maybe a recall should be done to get CDC off the agency’s back. If the credit for this investigation goes primarily to USDA, then why hasn’t the agency been proactive in the past to trace E.coli back to the slaughter plant of origin? The vast majority of E.coli recalls this century have been performed at downline further processing establishments which do NOT slaughter, but purchase all their meat from outside source slaughter providers. And, at the vast majority of these plants where recalls have occurred this century, a successful traceback to the slaughter house of origin has NOT occurred. It is then easy to understand why we continue to have increasing numbers of outbreaks and recalls! Since corrective actions to prevent recurrences have NOT been implemented at the source slaughter establishments, these kill plants continue on their merry way and make no changes to their kill floor sanitation protocol. This nation deserves what we get. Since we knowingly endorse USDA’s refusal to force the source plants to clean up their act, we must eat the consequences. Until Americans wake up and stand up, we must accept the fact that increasing numbers of us will be sickened and die every year from E.coli, in spite of our enjoying a “science based” meat inspection system. John Munsell

  • Consumer Fact

    Regarding statement from above “…we must accept the fact that incrasing numbers of us will be sickened and die every year from E.coli…”.
    Sadly, if the consumer would just cook the meat…this would not be the case.
    Steaks are cooked utilizing high heat…enough to kill the bacteria. Roasts are typically subjected to long slow cooking…enough to kill the bacteria.
    But for some odd reason, Americans still order that burger medium, medium rare, rare, it is ridiculous.
    Cook the burger to 160 degrees F. Ecoli will die and not you.
    Consumers can protect themselves. So do it already! Protect yourself. Don’t wait for the government to do it for you.