Annys Shin, Washington Post Staff Writer, weighed in an article she authored a few days ago – Beef’s Wake-Up Recall – A Year of Problems Has USDA Rethinking Safety Rules. And, here, in part is why the concern:
USDA officials did not learn that Topps had begun testing its ground beef less frequently until the recall. Recurring sanitation problems at a United Food Group plant in Vernon, Calif., that later recalled 75,000 pounds of ground beef did not trigger further enforcement actions because the agency had not told inspectors what to do about repeat violations…. The department has postponed plans to target inspections at plants that had a record of problems because officials do not know which plants pose the greatest risks.
On June 9th of this year I wrote: From 2002 until a few weeks ago … E. coli illnesses, especially those tied to red meat consumption were down – way down. A report in 2005 released by the CDC, in collaboration with the FDA and USDA, showed important declines in foodborne infections due to common bacterial pathogens in 2004. From 1996-2004, the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 infections decreased 42 percent. Now that was, and still seems, significant. We saw the same results in our law firm. From 1993 (Jack in the Box) to 2002 (ConAgra), 95% of the cases in our office were E. coli cases tied to red meat consumption. After 2002, we saw enormous drop in clients, and more importantly, ill people nationwide. Recalls fell to nothing. That is until six weeks ago. The last six weeks look like the late springs and summers from 1993 to 2002, when hamburger recalls and E. coli illnesses were a large part of every summer – much like vacations and baseball season.
That was written before – now bankrupt – Topps recalled 21,000,000 pounds of meat and food giant, Cargill, recalled another 1,000,000. I then posted, "Why the Uptick in E. coli cases” and “Uptick in hamburger E. coli contamination and recalls. My last post on the "Uptick" was "E. coli O157:H7 back with a vengeance." Hopefully, now that the Washington Post has jumped in, maybe our politicians will read their local newspaper – assuming they know how to read.