Hannaford’s was implicated in a 19-victim, 7-state outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that was likely the result of “high-risk practices;” so says the USDA’s FSIS. Hannaford’s stores did not keep grinding records that showed the source of all the trimmings that they used when they ground their beef for resale, and the result is, will we never know the identity of the beef company that sold Hannaford’s the antibiotic-resistant Salmonella-contaminated beef.
Leslie Bridgers at the Portland Press Herald wrote today:
Officials from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Friday that they plan to close the investigation within a week.
The officials said Hannaford’s “high-risk practices” for grinding beef were the barrier in their investigation, although those practices did not break any regulatory requirements and are probably used by other meat retailers.
Daniel Engeljohn, assistant administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, said it was not always clear from Hannaford’s records when the stores were grinding the trimmings. Investigators found that Hannaford would grind trimmings and tube meat without cleaning the equipment in between, he said, raising the possibility of cross-contamination.
Engeljohn noted that there is a lower sanitary standard for the cuts of meat that are used for trimmings than there is for the ground beef that comes in tubes.
There is no requirement that equipment be cleaned between grinds of meat from different companies, Engeljohn said, but the USDA has told retailers for several years that it recommends it, along with more complete information in grinding logs.
Hannaford’s “high-risk practices” aside, it is past time for FSIS to mandate better “regulator requirements” so the source of tainted beef can be found. As importantly, FSIS consideration must be given to the use of trim (a beef product most likely to be contaminated) as a source of fill for ground beef production.