Tri State Beef, a Cincinnati, Ohio establishment, is recalling approximately 228,596 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued today.

The following product is subject to recall:

  • Combo bins of “TRI-STATE BEEF CO., INC BONELESS BEEF.”

Each bin bears the establishment number “EST. 1750” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products subject to recall were produced between July 19, 2011 and July 22, 2011, and sold to federally-inspected establishments for further processing and distribution in Chicago, Illinois, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, Iowa and Virginia.

The problem was discovered through routine FSIS testing which confirmed a positive result for E. coli O157:H7. FSIS notes in its press release that “these products were distributed to facilities where they were cooked and as a result received full-lethality treatment, which would effectively kill the E. coli O157:H7 pathogen in the products.”

Despite that, E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, it can lead to the severe complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Consumers and media with questions regarding the recall should contact the company’s attorney, Mark Fitch, at (513) 731-8459.

On February 12, 2010, Huntington Meat Packing, Inc., expanded its January 18, 2010 beef recall to include approximately 4.9 million pounds of beef and veal products that it produced in 2009 and the first few days of this year. This expanded recall brings the grand total of beef products recalled since November 2009 (just 3 and a half months) to 5,672,000 pounds.

Today, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released a retail distribution list, which states that the recalled product was distributed to only two businesses nationally.  One is Castel and Cooke Cold Storage in Vernon, California, and the other is Rastelli Fine Foods in Swedesboro, New Jersey. 

It is unclear if these entities truly are the only businesses that received recalled product.  That would be a lot of beef and veal products–4.9 million pounds–for just two establishments.  More to come?

Trent Rowe reported yesterday on TheLedger.com about the disturbing prevalence of campylobacter on chicken purchased at retail. 

Most of the chickens we buy in supermarkets are contaminated with Salmonella and/or Campylobacter bacteria. They make us sick.

Consumer Reports checked 382 chickens from 100 stores around the country and found the bacteria in about two-thirds of the birds.

Only 34 percent of the birds had neither bugs.

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention show that the bacteria from food sources infect 3.4 million Americans a year, resulting in 25,500 hospital cases and 500 deaths.

 

Unfortunately, odds are, the uncooked chicken you’ve got in your refrigerator or freezer at home is contaminated with something that can make you very sick, or kill you if you’re a particularly susceptible person.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Campylobacter and chicken, just like E. coli O157 and beef, is not a bacteria found in the animal’s muscle tissues.  Chickens and cows alike harbor the bugs that can make us sick in their gastrointestinal tract.  So, just like E. coli and beef, the problem boils down to food manufacturers keeping feces off of edible meats. 

This is exactly what the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is the branch of USDA responsible for meat, eggs, and poultry, is trying to achieve with its newly adopted performance standards in chickens and turkeys.  Even though we won’t get to zero, it seems like the industry should be able to lower the contamination level from "most of the birds you buy are contaminated." 

 Today’s announcement by USDA-FSIS of another beef recall due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination bodes poorly for this new year.  Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, LLC., an Athol, Mass., establishment, is recalling approximately 2,574 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.  The recall occurs in the wake of an epidemiological investigation into the E. coli illness of at least one Massachusetts resident.  The recall also marks the third beef recall in the last three months due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

In November 2009, ground beef from a New York ground beef company called Fairbank Farms was recalled due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. That outbreak caused resulted in 26 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses, nineteen hospitalizations, and five who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).   

And on Christmas Eve 2009, National Steak and Poultry recalled at least 124 tons of mechanically tenderized beef products.  The National Steak and Poultry outbreak caused at least 21 E. coli O157:H7 illness in 16 states, including nine hospitalizations and one case of HUS.   

Together, the recalls and outbreaks linked to beef from Adams Farm, National Steak and Poultry, and Fairbank Farms, has caused at least 48 illnesses in nationally.  At least 776,000 pounds of beef have been recalled in total in the three outbreaks.