Some questions that need to be answered:
1. When did Topps know that there was a possible E. coli O157:H7 illness tied to its product? Given that USDA/FSIS was testing Topps product by September 7, 2007, it seems evident that Topps knew of the problem at some point between August 31, 2007 and September 8, 2007. Once it knew, what did it do?
2. Did Topps seek any advise from USDA/FSIS, or other sources, between August 31, 2007 and September 7, 2007 about commencing a recall?
3. When did Topps and USDA/FSIS discuss the recall, and what advise to USDA/FSIS give Topps regarding the timing of the recall?
August 31, 2007 – Florida parent complaint of E. coli O157:H7 illness of daughter logged on USDA/FSIS website.
September 7, 2007 – USDA/FSIS has positive E. coli O157:H7 sample from opened box of hamburger from Florida parent’s freezer.
September 8, 2007 – USDA/FSIS received hamburger sample from Topps. Tests were negative.
September 14, 2007 – Confirmed stool sample from Florida daughter and from hamburger in Florida parent’s freezer are identical E. coli O157:H7 genetic matches.
September 20, 2007 – USDA/FSIS was informed of two additional E. coli O157:H7 illnesses from New York State.
September 22, 20007 – Confirmed E. coli O157:H7 stool sample from New York cases were found to be genetic matches to both hamburger in Florida parent’s freezer and the daughter.
September 24, 2007 – New York State Department of Health confirmed E. coli O157:H7 positive sample from “unopened” box of Topps product.
September 25, 2007 – Recall announced.
September 29, 2007 – Recall expanded.
October 4, 2007 – “Opened vs unopened box of meat rule” changed.
October 5, 2007 – CDC confirms 30 illnesses in 8 states.
For other stupid USDA/FSIS rules – see these posts where I wrote about the USDA/FSIS’s failure to inform the Minnesota Health Department where E. coli contamination came from and where USDA/FSIS embargoed E. coli contaminated trim, but allowed the intact meat that the trim was removed from to be shipped despite the fact that it knew the intact meat would be used for hamburger. Post 1, 2, 3, 4. Why do these people keep their jobs?