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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

The Plot Thickens – More Westland and Hallmark Meat to be Recalled?

In a conference call with industry this morning, FSIS announced that it has changed its position in regard to further processed products that contain any amount of recalled Westland beef.  Whereas the Agency had stated on Tuesday that manufacturers of products in which Westland beef was commingled with other beef would not have to notify their consignees to return or destroy product, the Agency has now reconsidered and reversed that position.  The new determination is that all further processed products containing any amount of Westland beef will need to be recalled and destroyed.  A written statement on this position was promised by later today.

Other interesting points from the conference call:

* The Agency plans to follow its past practices for recalls that originate with a slaughter firm; the primary mechanism for verifying the recall is through recall effectiveness checks, with Agency personnel contacting each of 72 initial consignees and then each subsequent consignee to assure that at each level notification has been made to consignees of the need to return or destroy product. The Agency anticipates that 6-8 weeks could be required to complete its effectiveness checks for this recall.

* In line with past practice, the Agency does not intend to list on its website the further processed products that are being recalled.

* The Agency will expect each consignee to concentrate its recall efforts on product made from Westland beef that was received in the past 6 months and then to focus on other products that are still within their use-by dates. Records should be kept of determinations that products would no longer be expected to be on market shelves.

* A question was raised about whether some product listed in the Westland recall notice on February 17 was not actually slaughtered at the implicated establishment and therefore perhaps should not have been included in the recall. The Agency is checking into that possibility.

* Companies that received beef directly from Westland in the past two years should have already received a recall notification letter from the firm. The Agency advised that firms who suspect that they received product that will need to be recalled, but have not yet received such a letter, should put the product on hold.