Two confirmed and four probable cases of E. coli O157:H7 bacterial illnesses have been linked by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to ground beef purchased at B & G Foods of Galesburg, IL. The product implicated in the illnesses was purchased from B & G between August 10 and August 16, 2004.

A sample of ground beef left over from an August 14 cookout tested positive for E. coli bacteria, and the strain matched that isolated from the two cases confirmed by IDPH. IDPH, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture are working together to determine the source of the ground beef sold at B & G Foods.

I am absolutely astounded that after years and years of recalls the USDA does not have a better system for tracing tainted ground beef back to the source. There are measures in place to recall children’s toys and cars – specific measures that allow manufacturers to trace a product directly to the individual who purchased it – but nothing for our food supply.

We’ve seen this time and again. People get sick, the Health Departments do a great job of investigating illnesses, but no one has the authority to look at a company’s records and say, ‘this is where the meat came from.’ It’s ridiculous.