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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Cargill, getting reacquainted with the Enemy

As the number of Cargill-related E. coli recalls has grown, we have pulled a few of our past E. coli battles with Cargill and its many subsidiaries. We have spent a bit of time over the years with Cargill and its lawyers.

A bit more history about Cargill – In 1995 Cargill announced the “End of E. coli” in the pages of the New York Times. Now, 12 years later it has recalled nearly 2,000,000 pounds of hamburger (that is nearly enough to give every New Yorker a quarter pounder) in October and November recalls.  Jane Genova, fellow blog addict, posted twice on what "Big Beef" needs to do to fix the problem and the PR.  This post also warranted a post by a top-shelf Florida Law Blogger – Labovick – entitled "Cargill-beef-recall-is-a-walk-down-memory-lane"

Cargill Meat Solutions is the umbrella organization of Cargill’s beef, pork and turkey businesses. A key part of Cargill Meat Solutions was Excel Corporation, which began business nearly 70 years ago and grew from a Midwestern beef company to also include pork, processed meats, case ready meats and food distribution centers. Follow the Timeline:


1936 – Beef processor Excel Packing Company is formed in Chicago

1941 – Excel Packing moves to Wichita

1970 – Excel changes name to Kansas Beef Industries

1974 – Kansas Beef Industries and Missouri Beef Packers, which was formed in 1964, merge to form MBPXL Corporation

1979 – Cargill, Incorporated, acquires MBPXL Corporation

1982 – Cargill renames MBPXL as Excel Corporation

Evolution of Cargill Meat Solutions – Excel was once known as America’s Beef Company. In the 1980s, the company moved beyond just beef and the U.S. border.

1982 – Food Distribution Centers: Excel opened its first food distribution center in Wichita, Kan., in 1982. Today, known as Cargill Food Distribution, the business distributes fresh beef and pork, and other products to grocers and foodservice outlets from 12 U.S. facilities.

1986
Further-processed, Value-added Meats: Excel acquired Del Pero Mondon (DPM), which was based in Marysville, Calif. The further processing business took the name of Emmpak Foods when Excel acquired Milwaukee-based Emmpak in 2001.

1987 – Pork Processing: Excel entered the pork processing business by purchasing two facilities that were being closed – one by Hormel in Ottumwa, Iowa, and the other by Oscar Mayer in Beardstown, Ill.

1989 – Canadian Beef: After two years of construction, Cargill Foods Ltd. opened a beef harvesting facility near High River, Alberta.

1991 – Australian Beef: Cargill Foods Australia acquired a meat processing business in Wagga Wagga, and two years later, converted it to a beef-only facility. Another facility, in Tamworth, was acquired in 1998.

1992 – Case-Ready Meats: Building on past efforts with case-ready meats, Excel/Cargill acquired a plant in Toronto and turned it into what is the longest-running of its five case-ready-only plants.

2000 – Cargill Meat Solutions: Cargill created Cargill Meat Solutions as one of 13 business platforms. In addition to Excel, Cargill Meat Solutions included Caprock Cattle Feeders, a leading finisher of beef cattle, and Cargill Pork, a leading producer of hogs. Cargill entered the hog production business in 1971 and acquired Caprock in 1974.

2001 – Turkey: Cargill Turkey Products was added to Cargill Meat Solutions. Cargill entered the turkey processing business in 1967. It grew through the 1998 acquisition of Plantation Foods in Waco, Tex., and the 2001 acquisition of Rocco Foods in Harrisonburg, Va. The general offices of Cargill Turkey Products moved to Wichita in 2003.

2003 – Taylor Beef: Cargill Meat Solutions created a business around Taylor Beef, which was acquired in 2002. Taylor focused on processing culled dairy cattle and producing ground beef.

2004 – Cargill Value Added Meats: Emmpak Foods, Inc., which was acquired in 2001 and based in Milwaukee, was combined with Cargill Turkey Products to form Cargill Value Added Meats. The general offices of the Cargill Value Added Meats business unit are located in Wichita. Finexcor: Cargill announces an agreement to acquire 50 percent of the shares of Finexcor, a leading Argentine beef processor and exporter. The purchase marks Cargill’s first investment in the Argentine beef industry.

2005 – Better Beef: Cargill Limited and Better Beef Limited announce that the two companies have reached an agreement for Cargill to purchase beef processing and related assets operated by Better Beef Limited, headquartered in Guelph, Ontario.

  • http://injurylaw.labovick.com/2007/11/articles/product-recalls/cargill-beef-recall-is-a-walk-down-memory-lane/index.html Injury Law Blog

    Cargill Beef – recall is a walk down memory lane

    Cargill Beef issued a massive recall on November 3, 2007 for more than 1 million pounds of ground beef that is suspected to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. This is the second voluntary recall of beef in less than a month. The earlier Cargill rec…

  • http://www.GrayStarInc.com Russell N. Stein

    Hi Bill,
    It has been a while since we’ve corresponded. During this time a lot has happened on the food borne illness/recall front, and from my perspective you are too busy. The amazing part is that I have not been busy enough! Evidently, the food industry, and more specifically the meat industry, has chosen to promote your services over ours. I guess you guys have better marketing talents?
    The latest Cargill recall is specifically interesting because of Wegman’s. Wegman’s sells non-irradiated ground meat and irradiated ground meat, both from Cargill. This is the first time, to my knowledge, where one batch of meat was recalled and its sister batch was not, due to preventative processing–ÔΩ¶irradiation. This probably brings up some interesting litigation issues–but that’s your business–not mine.
    Congress does not kill bacteria. Testing does not kill bacteria. Inspection does not kill bacteria. A Super Food Agency cannot kill bacteria. Even litigation does not kill bacteria. Irradiation kills bacteria, and yet is at the very bottom of the list.
    An incontrovertible fact: If the products that all of your clients ate had been irradiated, they would not have become sick. No recalls, no loss of brand names, no loss of sales, no loss of consumer confidence, and no expensive litigation. The industry is missing a sure bet. A few companies, (too few), such as Omaha Steaks, will not sell ground beef unless it has been irradiated.
    I believe that the food industry is trying to sell food borne illness as the Status Quo. What I fear is that they may be succeeding. It won’t be long before a new television channel is added to the line up–ÔΩ¶the “Total Recall Channel!”
    Yes, I am frustrated as an irradiator manufacturer that irradiation is not being employed. But, I am more frustrated that people suffer and die when they do not have to, especially when there is an existing and practical solution. And, I am also frustrated that I have to drive an hour to my nearest Wegman’s to buy irradiated ground beef–ÔΩ¶the only ground beef that I allow in my house.
    Back to the subject of marketing, perhaps the slogan that would work for both of us is:
    “Irradiate or Litigate”
    Hoping that you have more time for vacation in the near future,
    Russell
    Russell N. Stein
    Vice President
    GRAY*STAR, Inc.
    http://www.GrayStarInc.com

  • http://expatriateskitchen.blogspot.com ExPat Chef

    How about if they just fed the cows what cows are supposed to eat and raise them on pasture in a humane way? Both of you would be looking for work.
    In the meantime, put the screws to ‘em, cause the USDA won’t do it.

  • http://www.marlerblog.com/2008/05/articles/legal-cases/its-a-dirty-dirty-business-marler-said/index.html Marler Blog

    “It’s a dirty, dirty business,” Marler said.

    Mick Trevey of WTMJ reported on documents discovered at the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Milwaukee, also called Emmpak Foods, which processes more than 100 million pounds of beef every year. Bill Marler is a lawyer who specializes in food…