In a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack on August 18, 2010, J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO of AMI stated “outbreaks associated with non-O157:H7 STECs in various foods have been documented, but no reported outbreak in the U.S. has been confirmed to be directly linked to beef products.”

Screen shot 2010-08-29 at 7.45.01 PM.pngReally J. Pat?

Interestingly, The CDC estimates that “non-O157 STECs (like O26, O45, 0103, O111, O121, and O145) cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year.” In speaking about the May E. coli O145 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, Patricia M. Griffin, chief of CDC’s Enteric Diseases Epidemiology branch, said it is likely that E. coli O145 [and others have] caused previous food poisonings but has gone undetected because only about 5 percent of clinical laboratories are able to detect it. “The fact that we found it now doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before,” she said. “The ability to look for the organism in ill people and in outbreaks and food has been increasing. We’re gradually finding more of these organisms.”

She also attached a memo outlining a number of animal contact outbreaks AND an E. coli O111 outbreak in North Dakota with ground beef in 2007.

Perhaps J. Pat did not read the memo?

Although I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, you have to wonder why J. Pat did not get the heads up from FSIS that a non-O157:H7 outbreak and recall [the recent E. coli O26] were brewing before he wrote his August 18th letter?  According to last Friday night’s press release: “FSIS became aware of the problem [E. coli O26 outbreak] on August 5, 2010 when the agency was notified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources of an E. coli O26 cluster of illnesses.”

I will leave it up to the FSIS to explain why they waited from August the 5th until midnight last Friday to inform the public (and J. Pat) of the outbreak that AMI seems to have been waiting for.

Now, J. Pat – Why does the AMI not want bacteria that can kill you to be considered “adulterants?”

FYI – I am putting this Press Release out at 6:00 AM Eastern Time Monday – “E. coli O26 Outbreak and Recall Illustrate Urgent Need for Change.”  By the way, I like J. Pat.  in 1999 he actually asked me to speak before the AMI Board of Directors (I spoke just after they all agreed to become “Pioneers” for George W. Bush – $200,000 a pop), but they have never invited me back.  Also, J. Pat and I had a civil debate about E. coli and death on Larry King Live a few months ago.