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    Recall forces Company Closure

    This…this is only one reason of many why recalls are such a bad thing.

    Topps Meat Company LLC announced today that because of the economic impact of the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history involving more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products, it is forced to close its Elizabeth plant and go out of business effective today.

    “This is tragic for all concerned,” said Anthony D’Urso, Chief Operating Officer. “In one week we have gone from the largest U.S.manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome theeconomic reality of a recall this large.”

    Not only does an outbreak put the public health at risk, but it risks the livelihood of those who had little to nothing to do in regard to the outbreak. How utterly depressing.

    (h/t to Cybele)

    Repeated Offenses

    I could focus on the news of the beef recall, but I really don’t wish to. I think we know the drill by now – the FDA is underfunded, and the USDA isn’t interested in offending those with big wallets. So this era of loose to no enforcement of regulations is allowing companies to play fast and loose with the aforementioned regulations. And sometimes…sometimes it puts the public at risk. Granted it’s a small percentage of the population – but at what point is too much too much?

    It’s hard to dispute the fact that 21.7 millions pounds of meat is a lot. Topps Meat Company will lose millions of dollars both in the short term and the long term. Quite likely, some employees will lose their jobs.

    Ain’t laissez-faire regulation grand?

    21.7 million pounds of beef recalled

    Yeah, that’s a headline you really don’t want to see.

    From CNN…

    NEW YORK (CNN) — Topps Meat Co. on Saturday expanded a recall of ground beef from about 300,000 pounds to 21.7 million pounds, one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.

    In a statement, the Elizabeth, New Jersey, company said the hamburger patties may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a bacterium that can cause severe diarrhea and cramps, as well as other complications.

    A statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 25 illnesses are under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    The ground beef products being recalled have a “sell by date” or a “best if used by date” between September 25, 2007, and September 25, 2008, Topps’ statement said.

    So far, there’s been 25 cases of illness recorded in 8 states.

    More later.

    Dole produce with E.Coli…again

    From the Headlines:

    Dole Fresh Vegetables is recalling about 800 cases of salads shipped throughout the United States and Canada after Canadian government testing revealed contamination with a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria.

    So…how’s that voluntary self-regulation going? I thought that the whole point of the California Leafy Green Product Handlers Marketing Agreement was to prevent E.Coli from entering the marketplace.

    (h/t to Jack at Fork & Bottle)

    FDA releases Report on the 2006 Spinach/E.Coli Outbreak

    Well, after all of the people who got sick, the several people who died, the hundreds of thousands spent on investigating the outbreak, and the FDA says that the culprit was…


    …they still don’t really know.

    Because the contamination occurred before the start of the investigation, and because of the many ways that E.coli O157:H7 can be transferred — including animals, humans, and water — the precise means by which the bacteria spread to the spinach remain unknown.

    That’s not to say that they don’t have their suspicions. They were able to identify the environmental risk factors and the areas that were most likely involved in the outbreak. “Contaminated irrigation water, uncomposted manure used as fertilizer, the presence of wildlife and livestock and the hygiene of the workers handling the crops all might have served to transport the bacteria”, they said.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    However – Fresh Express has seemingly come to their own conclusions on the causes and is refusing to buy lettuce and spinach from farmers who don’t stop using compost and recycled water.

    This action by Fresh Express is both welcome and needed. At the very least, it will provide an interesting comparison against produce companies who do not have similar requirements.

    UPDATE: As Jack alluded to in the comments, compost is actually preferable to using chemical fertilizers in produce use, something that slipped my mind completely. Personally, I believe that the recycled sewage water played the larger role, and was focused more on that than the compost issue.

    E.Coli Scallions Farm located

    They’ve come from a farm in Southern California that supplies produce to Ready Pac (which I nodded at slightly yesterday).

    The scallions suspected in the E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell came from a southern California grower, an official with the company that washed, chopped and packed them for the restaurant chain said yesterday.

    Ready Pac Produce, the sole supplier of green onions to Taco Bell restaurants in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia areas, stopped all production of scallions at its Florence, N.J., plant, which federal food inspectors visited Wednesday.

    Technorati Tags: E.Coli, Taco+Bell

    Ready Pac and Green Onions

    This L.A. Times article about the Taco Bell/E.Coli outbreak gives some interesting pieces of information:

    New Jersey food safety regulators and the FDA are investigating two suppliers: McLane Foodservice and a Florence, N.J., facility operated by Irwindale-based Ready Pac Foods Inc.

    McLane is the sole distributor of ingredients for Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey, New York’s Long Island, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Ready Pac Produce processes lettuce, tomatoes and onions.

    Green onions are processed exclusively for Taco Bell in one section of the Ready Pac plant.

    Ready Pac? Where have I heard that name recently?

    Oh yeah….in the Spinach/E.Coli outbreak news from September. They were one of the many companies that distributed the spinach grown by the ironicially named Natural Selection Foods.

    Technorati Tags: Green Onions, E.Coli, Taco Bell