Andrew Martin, well known as the “E. coli guy” in the NYT’s Newsroom, has been spending a bit too much time in slaughterhouses and talking to at least one trial lawyer. One will make you a vegetarian, the other, well, might make you a Republican. Mr. Martin’s story – “Meat Processors Look for Ways to Keep Ground Beef Safe," is worth a serious read. Clearly, the industry and government are struggling to figure out why more people are turning to me for help. Hard to believe that the President has my self-interest at heart. As Mr. Martin wrote:
It is difficult to say whether the amount of E. coli in ground beef has increased this year, since the number of recalls is an imperfect measure. Limited sampling by the Agriculture Department has found a slight increase in the level of E. coli O157:H7 this year over recent years, though it remains lower than it was five or six years ago.
That being said, there has been an increase in E. coli cases. Parents of sick kids are calling me way too often. I had some earlier posts on this blog that at least explored some of the reasons for the “uptick” in E. coli cases:
E. coli’s comeback – What’s up with that?
E. coli O157:H7 – Its back with a vengeance.
Why the “uptick” in E. coli cases in 2007?
“Uptick” in E. coli hamburger illnesses and recalls.
I hope more of the media follows the New York Times (and my blog posts). Of course one of the best quotes came from the meat industry itself:
“I wish I had a silver bullet. We have done a lot, and it’s a continuing ongoing process to look for more,” Mr. Danilson said (Dean A. Danilson is in charge of Tyson’s food safety). But he acknowledged that it was impossible to create a perfect system for stopping E. coli O157:H7. “Taking a dirty animal and turning it into food — from the time of the cave man, that has not been an easy process.”
But, the best quotes came from out here in very rainy Seattle:
But some meat industry officials say they are sure that more E. coli is turning up in cattle this year. That impression is shared by William Marler, a lawyer in Seattle who specializes in food-borne illness and who has seen a marked increase in clients who say they became sick from eating E. coli-contaminated meat. “This is real stuff,” he said. “It is a fundamentally different year than ’06, ’05, ’04 and ’03.”