Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to speak at the National Meat Association annual “meating.”  For the most part my speech was positive.  From a spike in outbreaks, illnesses and recalls in 2007, the numbers have dropped – well, until this morning when 1,000,000 pounds of meat were recalled due to illnesses in California.  Before this mornings recalls, here were the numbers:

I now need to update those slides to 12 recalls of 1,786,859 pounds. Although I praised the meat industry for a positive downward trend (especially in total illnesses), I also pointed to the tragic reality of E. coli O157:H7 (and other E. coli) infections. I did show the video below (some were not too happy I did):

As USDA Secretary Vilsack said a year ago:

“Until we get the number of food-borne illnesses down to zero, and the number of hospitalizations down to zero, and the number of deaths down to zero, we still have work to do.”

I wonder if the Secretary has ever taken the time to watch the above video.  I would be happy to send him the longer version too.  The reality is that zero may not be possible – but it should be a goal.  Until we do better (industry, retail, government and consumers).  We will have more Abby’s and the industry will not reach this goal either: