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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

FSIS, JBS Swift – “Where is the Beef?” Would you Mind Telling the Public Where the E. coli Beef is BEFORE the 4th of July?

The good/bad thing about hitting 50ish, and litigating food poisoning cases for 16 years, is the institutional memory that I have developed regarding bad food and bad commercials.

Coming days before the 4th of July barbeque’s, 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.  Somewhere between 18 and 24 Illnesses have been reported in what is believed to be Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin?  As reported by the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS):

The beef products were produced on April 21, 2009 and were distributed both nationally and internationally.  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.

So, where is the recalled beef?

On August 18, 2008 after years of hand wringing, the FSIS finally put public health before “proprietary” business interests when it made the following rule:

9 C.F.R. § 390.10 Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees during Meat or Poultry Product Recalls

The Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service will make publicly available the names and locations of retail consignees of recalled meat or poultry products that the Agency compiles in connection with a recall where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product could cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

The full rule can be reviewed at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/2005-0028F.pdf

The Bottom Line:

The FSIS is now supposed to make available to the public names and locations of retail consignees (grocery stores, etc.) of meat and poultry products recalled by a federally-inspected meat or poultry establishment if the recalled product has been distributed to the retail level.  The rule will only apply to Class I recalls (like the JBS Swift ones). The information is supposed to be posted on the FSIS website, generally within three (3) to ten (10) working days, following the announcement of the recall. 

So, where is the recalled beef?

  • D. L. Whitehead

    I guess the list simply hasn’t been compiled yet…
    Begs the question of real traceability in my mind, unless someone or some entity is simply withholding information. Nah, that wouldn’t happen…