I have been blogging, some would say flogging, about the reason for the increase, or “uptick” in E. coli cases and recalls tied to hamburger products. Just a few days ago I flogged on the “uptick,” and a few weeks ago flogged about how safe or food supply really is, or not.
Now it is good to see the media weighing in on the topic. Just today there are three articles that should be read to give my readers an idea of the extent of the problem and what might be done to solve it. I also posted a link below to show just how stupid business and the government can truly be.
Tom Webb of the Pioneer Press:
Rising E. coli cases a danger, a mystery
‘It’s not something we can fully explain,’ says top USDA official
For years, nearly all E. coli cases focused on contaminated hamburger, said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who has specialized representing plaintiffs in cases of food-borne illness since the outbreak at the Jack in the Box hamburger chain in 1993. After some massive hamburger recalls in the late 1990s and early 2000s, better controls to prevent E. coli became required in the meat industry. Then in 2003, as the problems in meat receded, E. coli began turning up in spinach, lettuce and other produce.
Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune:
Questions swirl around recent rise in E. coli cases – Meat recalls have highlighted an uptick in illnesses. Experts offer several theories why.
The headlines keep coming. Last weekend, Cargill voluntarily recalled nearly 1 million pounds of ground beef linked to possible E. coli contamination, its second recall this year. And Topps Meat Co. in September issued the second-largest recall in U.S. history — 21.7 million pounds of ground beef — that put the New Jersey-based meat producer out of business. Those recalls have added to an uptick in E. coli cases since 2005, after more than a decade of declines.
Marti Davis of the Knoxville News:
After huge beef recall, child’s death, health officials warn parents
Ms. Davis also spoke to a former client, a good friend and last summer’s intern at Marler Clark:
Catherine Russe, a Maryville College senior, was 15 when she was sickened by a tainted hamburger served to her at a local hospital where she was being treated for bulimia and anorexia nervosa. She, too, developed HUS, spent more than two weeks in intensive care, and had multiple blood transfusions and lengthy dialysis. She wept when her college professors announced the death of Jaycee Burgin.
"Every time I hear about a child who dies or even gets sick from HUS, I cry. The pain that one experiences during this illness cannot be described, and for a child to have to go through something such as this absolutely breaks my heart," she said.
And if the above is not enough to convince everyone that our food supply has problems, you need to read Stephen Hedges’ piece in the Chicago Tribune:
Beef with E. coli slips through "loophole"
One federal inspector calls it the "E. coli loophole." Another says, "Nobody would buy it if they knew." The officials are referring to the little-discussed fact that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has deemed it acceptable for meat companies to cook and sell meat on which E. coli, a bacteria that can sicken and even kill humans, is found during processing. The "E. coli loophole" affects millions of pounds of beef each year that test positive for the presence of E. coli O157:H7, a virulent strain of the bacteria.
The contaminated meat is not discarded, it is used, hopefully fully cooked, in products (hamburgers, burritos, pizza, etc) – many consumed by kids in the National School Lunch Program – boy, doesn’t that make sense. Hamburger anyone?