E. coli and little league baseball should not mix.  I can not imagine why a system seems to use kids as guniea pigs to figure out when an E. coli outbreak is happening.  It will be interesting to see if Richwood Meat tested for E. coli prior to it being shipped to customers in at least five States.

Little Leaguers sickened; Richwood Meat recalls 100,000 pounds of beef

More than 100,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties processed by a Merced company were recalled after three Little League teammates fell ill with E. coli from tainted hamburgers, officials said Friday. Richwood Meat Co. issued a voluntary recall of the year-old frozen beef, which was produced in late April and early May 2006. The Merced plant distributes meat in California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

I got the following email from John Munsell, USDA critic and very smart guy:

Overnight, I see that FSIS has issued yet another recall notice # 20-2007, covering the recall of over 107,000 lbs of ground beef for potential E.coli contamination (see Attachment).   I hope this doesn’t presage a banner year for E.coli recalls.  It’s not even May yet, and we’ve just had two sizeable recalls announced in one day.

You may know that Richwood Meat Co also conducted a voluntary recall of 90,000 lbs of ground beef for E.coli contamination on February 24, 2004 (Recall # 7-2004).  FYI, I contacted Richwood Meat Co on February 26, 2004 and had a long visit with them.  The most interesting portion of my notes of that conversation is the statement “They said that USDA has so far shown no desire whatsoever to trace back the contaminant to the source of contamination”.

It will be interesting to watch FSIS’ actions during this current recall to see if the agency’s attitude has changed in the last three years.

Perhaps 2007 will be the year during which these large, victimized further processing plants will stand up for their rights, and demand that public health imperatives are best served by the agency going upstream to the true origin of contamination.  The ability of Richwood and other large non-slaughter grinding establishments to fully remove (or even detect) pathogens from previously contaminated meat is limited.  If FSIS continues to focus 100 % of its enforcement actions against these hapless downline plants, we simply must concede the fact that multiple recurrences of production of E.coli-contaminated meat will occur because the sloppy kill floor dressing procedures are not being corrected, with tacit agency approval under HACCP’s deregulated unmbrella.

The agency currently has two golden opportunities to identify the true source of contamination, rather than to be content with hagriding the destination of contamination.  If FSIS breaks from past tradition, and successfully forces the source to implement corrective action, it will gain countless admirers.

John Munsell

See also, Year-old meat recalled after E. coli cases