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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Hannaford Recalls Salmonella Hamburger After 14 Ill in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont

hannaford-logo.jpgHannaford, a Scarborough, Maine-based grocery chain, is recalling an undetermined amount of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with a strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The products subject to recall are any size package of the following:

“73% Hannaford Regular Ground Beef”

“75% Hannaford Regular Ground Beef”

“80% Hannaford Regular Ground Beef”

“85% Hannaford Regular Ground Beef”

“90% Hannaford Regular Ground Beef”

“80% Taste of Inspirations Angus Ground Beef”

“85% Taste of Inspirations Angus Ground Beef”

“90% Taste of Inspirations Angus Ground Beef”

“85% Nature’s Place Ground Beef”

“90% Nature’s Place Ground Beef”

This recall was initiated due to concerns about illnesses caused by an outbreak of salmonellosis that may be associated with use and consumption of fresh in-store ground beef prepared in and purchased at Hannaford stores. The PFGE pattern associated with this outbreak is reported rarely in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported 14 ill persons with an indistinguishable PFGE pattern, and 11 of those individuals reported consuming ground beef. Seven individuals were hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. Ten of the 14 case-patients reported purchasing ground beef at Hannaford stores in Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont between Oct. 12 and Nov. 20. No other product description is available at this time. As a result of on-going epidemiologic and traceback investigations, as well as in-store reviews, FSIS, working with the CDC and its state health partners, determined that there is a link between the Hannaford ground beef products and this illness outbreak. FSIS is continuing to work with CDC, public health partners in the affected states and the company on the investigation. FSIS will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

The various ground beef packages bear sell-by dates of Dec. 17, 2011 or earlier and were sold at Hannaford stores throughout Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

  • John Munsell

    Details of this recall are scintillating, for many reasons.
    First, as the news states above, the recalled meat is “fresh in-store ground beef prepared in and purchased at Hannaford stores”. This means that each Hannaford store in the five impacted states ground the burger on their own premises. Highly unusual that Hannaford stores in all five states ostensibly produced contaminated burger, while other retailers in those five states did not produce contaminated ground beef. This would indicate that the Hannaford chain was victimized by purchasing meat from one source slaughter provider which had (perhaps still has) a sizeable breakdown in its sanitation protocol on its kill floor.
    The USDA recall Notice also stated:
    “Based on an examination of Hannaford’s limited records, FSIS was unable to determine responsible suppliers”
    “FSIS has not yet been able to identify FSIS-regulated suppliers of raw beef ground at Hannaford Stores related to the outbreak that could be subject to recall action”.
    This is yet another case of businesses which grind burger failing to recognize the risk involved in NOT documenting the origin of meat they are grinding. While maintaining a “Grinding Log” is time consuming, evidence from the log may save the company’s future viability, as the evidence will prove the true SOURCE of contamination.
    These statements from the USDA Recall Notice also reflect how the agency’s stance towards recalls, public health, and contaminated meat is slowly changing. In January & February of 2002, agency sampling of my ground beef revealed four instances of E.coli O157:H7-contaminated meat. At that time, FSIS showed ZERO interest in identifying the source slaughter provider of the meat we ground, and of course, did no traceback. My situation was not unique. Since then, I’ve visited with dozens of small plant owners, especially those who do not slaughter, after they suffered through a recall. Their response has been unanimous: they all agreed that FSIS showed little if ANY interest in determining the source plant where contaminants were introduced into the meat. Instead, FSIS investigators closely perused written records at the downstream grinding plant, as if the contamination was caused by alleged paperwork shortcomings at the downstream grinding establishment.
    In 2002 at my plant, and at dozens of other plants in subsequent years, even when plant owners had copious records proving the origin of meat which had been ground, FSIS deliberately ignored the evidence. Now, it appears as though FSIS wants source evidence. Whether FSIS does anything with evidence is yet to be seen. I am not optimistic.
    Suffice it to say, FSIS has a recurring animosity against a scientific determination of the SOURCE, preferring instead to assess all blame against victimized downstream further processing plants. This newest agency Recall Press Release just might indicate that FSIS realizes that the game is up, and it must now comply with Public Health imperatives.
    John Munsell

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Good thing for our family that I don’t shop at Hannafords . . .