Beef Recall Raises Concerns Again

Ellen Haas Health Guide
  • News that Nebraska Beef had just recalled 1.2 million pounds of beef products that might have caused 30 people to get ill may sound awfully familiar. It should. Just last month the United States Department of Agriculture recalled tainted ground beef from this same company and ordered the company to make a number of sanitation changes in their plants. But a month after the USDA assured consumers that their beef products were safe, this new recall was ordered. And this time, it was not just ground beef but included other beef products that were contaminated with E. coli.


    This recall follows last month's recall of 5 million pounds of beef product. Because the company, Nebraska Beef, had a history of sanitation violations USDA increased its testing. This time tests showed another strain of the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria.

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    Products linked to illnesses were thought to be in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. All of the beef products were sold to food retailers like Whole Foods and Fred Myers and others and they quickly issued their own recall. Whole Foods said that consumers that bought ground beef between June 2 and August 6 should throw it out.


    E. coli infections can be very serious and symptoms may include strong cramps and diarrhea. Consumer alerts have advised consumers to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees and that should kill any bacterium that is present in the beef.


    This recall also follows the largest recall in history that took place this spring when USDA recalled 143 million pounds of beef from the Westland/Hallmark meat packing plant. At the time consumer and public health groups called on Congress to strengthen the meat inspection laws. Since then Congress has focused on making the recall authority stronger and fixing the systemic problems of the meat inspection system.


    With the increasing number of beef recalls - more than 20 in the last year - further action by the Department of Agriculture and Congress is needed. Has USDA been strict enough in the oversight of companies like Nebraska Beef?


    But consumers should be alerted to the situation and not alarmed. Find out how you can do more to call on Congress to improve our food safety policies.


    Summer is a time to enjoy delicious grilled suppers and this summer is no exception. Here is a terrific recipe that we enjoyed at Ellen's Healthy Table:


Published On: August 11, 2008