Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli “Uptick” to Continue in 2008

Bill Tomson writer for the Wall Street Journal wrote in yesterday’s WSJ – “U.S. Agency to Focus Efforts On Reducing E. coli Threat.” According to Mr. Tomson, we can all expect “just as many beef recalls, if not more, in 2008 as they did this year….”  According to USDA officials:

It took one of the largest-ever beef recalls — 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties linked to severe illnesses — in 2007 to make USDA officials question whether beef processors around the country were following safety guidelines when it came to E. coli contamination. The New Jersey-based Topps Meat Co., the producer behind the massive recall, certainly wasn’t, USDA officials said.

"When we sent food-safety assessors into the Topps plant, we found that their policies they had in place were not being followed nearly as vigorously as they had been just two years ago when we did a food-safety assessment in the same plant," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond said in an interview…. "We don’t know if Topps was the tip of the iceberg and other plants have gotten sloppy, or Topps was kind of an isolated incident," Mr. Raymond said.

I have been "flawging" about this "uptick" in recalls and ill people.  I only hope the USDA figures out what is going on before more people get sick or die.  Some of my earlier posts:

E. coli’s Comeback: What’s up with that?

E. coli O157:H7 — It’s back, with a vengeance

Months ago in a post: "Put me out of business – Please – 2007,"  I said, I am not sure I know the reason for the new and ominous trend (these are the largest meat recalls in five years), but by anyone’s count these numbers are concerning. What I do know is that these recent outbreaks have all the ugly signs of another national emergency. As a nation – and that includes all federal and local government agencies as well as the private sector – we cannot let the positive tend of the past become another acceptable body count. We need to figure out why this has happened. My suggestion – if Congress was willing to drop everything in order to investigate the deaths of a dozen cats due to contaminated pet food from China – perhaps bringing all the executives of the companies responsible for this recent rash of outbreaks, recalls and illnesses to Washington for a few days of questioning (under oath) might help us get to the bottom of this.

  • Nicole

    I am surprised that you of all people would simply parrot the number of “dozens” of cats dead as a result of the pet food recall. Those “dozens” were animals that died in the pet food companies laboratory before they issued the recall. They were the animals that prompted the company to say hmmm gee I think there is a problem. In fact thousands of dogs and cats were sickened and died but, and you should be familiar with this clever ploy, if the FDA doesn’t scientifically confirm the causal relation, and they as much as said they had no intention of doing so, then they don’t have to raise the number. So the FDA says 16 confirmed dead, all the media say 16 confirmed dead and now almost one year later you are repeating that lie. These animals, whether you personally care for them or not, were the canaries in the coal mine. Are you familiar with that concept? They were our early warning system that something is horribly wrong with the safety of our food import system and self regulation. Yet still very few are paying attention.
    And the reason Congress held hearings is because its members were literally bombarded with thousands of emails, calls and letters from pet owners all over the country whose animals were sick or dead and from those who simply cared about the food they were feeding their pets, even if they weren’t victims of the poison pet food. They did not stop until they got action. You wouldn’t know this was going on if you weren’t paying attention. It was an organized persistent effort.
    Maybe if a few humans cared as much about the human race, you would get hearings too. My guess is that not too many people are emailing their representative about ground beef and tomatoes, although they should be. And I will bet that is because not too many people are aware of the seriousness of the problem. I would never even know about half the recalls if I didn’t check your site. And thanks for the great information.

  • Or execute them the way the Chinese do.