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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli quote of the day

Late last night Christopher Doering of Reuters quoted USDA/FSIS head guy, U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond, in an article entitled – USDA says has enough legal authority to do recalls – Dr. Raymond testified that the U.S. Agriculture Department does not need additional authority to conduct meat recalls and would oppose any move to make the removal of such items from the market mandatory, the USDA’s top meat safety official told lawmakers on Wednesday.

"I think we do a very good job with recalls at this point at time," U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond told a House Agriculture subcommittee on livestock, dairy, and poultry. "I believe we have all the legal authority we need to do our job," he said.

REALLY? So, what about this from the Associated Press this morning:

Recalled Topps meat found in N.J. stores

State inspectors said Wednesday that they have found more boxes of potentially tainted meat on store shelves more than a month after a nationwide recall of Topps frozen hamburgers. New Jersey authorities have also subpoenaed additional distributors and wholesalers to determine what other stores have the frozen patties and whether they were delivered after the Sept. 29 recall by the now-defunct Topps Meat Co. of Elizabeth. Over the past few weeks, 141 boxes of Topps burgers have been found at 12 stores, all in northern New Jersey except for one in Gloucester City in Camden County.

More from Dr. Raymond:

According to Dr. Raymond, currently, the industry initiates recalls voluntarily. Raymond said the current process works and any move by lawmakers to make recalls mandatory was unnecessary and risks causing the system to work less efficiently.

My definition of a "good job" differs a bit from Dr. Raymond.  Perhaps that is why under his leadership, 2007 has had close to 20 beef recalls, amounting to nearly 30,000,000 million pounds of meat and hundreds ill.  When was the last time anyone recalls a governmental official being fired?  Also, don’t forget the USDA’s complete failure to protect the public in the Topps Recall of a month ago.  Reread by post –  USDA/FSIS Timeline of Topps Recall.   Frankly, I am not sure giving USDA/FSIS recall authority, given its record, would make anyone safer.  But hey, as Dr. Raymond says:

“Our meat supply is the safest in the world.”

Or, perhaps not – See my Op-ed from a month ago – even before the Cargill recalls and illnesses  – Is the US beef supply safe?