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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

UPDATE – Safeway and Beef Packers, Inc.’s (Cargill) Recall Ground Beef (AGAIN) in Arizona and New Mexico Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Retail List – Safeway in cooperation with Beef Packers, Inc.’s (Cargill) recall of 22,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that may be linked to an outbreak of Salmonella, Safeway Inc. is recalling fresh ground beef products with "Sell By” dates of September 28 through October 11, 2009. The recall affects all stores in Arizona and one store in New Mexico in the city of Gallup.  Didn’t this just happen a few months ago?

The beef recall was triggered by a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services to FSIS that illnesses from Salmonella Newport may be associated with ground beef products. The state agency and the ADHS determined that the association between the fresh ground beef products and two cases of salmonella illnesses reported in Arizona.

While the recalled product is no longer in stores, Safeway is asking its customers to check all ground beef in their freezers. The recall includes fresh ground beef products sold during the dates listed above at the full-service counter in brown butcher paper and at the self-service area wrapped on black Styrofoam trays. These products include fresh ground beef, fresh ground beef patties, fresh meat balls, fresh meat loaf and fresh bell peppers stuffed with beef and pork.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella Newport can cause salmonellosis. Salmonella Newport infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, infants, the elderly, and persons undergoing chemotherapy. This particular strain of Salmonella Newport is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.  Read about Salmonella Newport and the Dairy Industry’s "Dirty Little Secret."

Questions – Why only 22,000 pounds of ground beef recalled?  My strong suspicion is that 22,000 pounds of ground beef is about one hour of production on one line (likely have 5 or 6 lines) in a facility as large as Beef Packers/Cargill that will produce 500,000 or more pounds of ground beef in a day.  Yet, the recall is only of ground beef products with "Sell By” dates between September 28 through October 11, 2009?  Were all other tests on those lines negative for Salmonella Newport?