In the first ground beef E. coli recall of 2011 (there was one on December 30 2010 too), a California company called American Food Service has recalled 3,170 pounds of fresh ground beef patties and other bulk packages of ground beef products.  The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 1913” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were distributed to restaurants throughout southern California.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service and AFS have expressed concern about getting the recalled products back before consumers are served the bad burgers.  The products may be frozen, a particular risk in ground beef recall situations because of consumers’/retailers’ common practice of putting the beef in the freezer for later service.  

Notably, Safeway was recently sued in California by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a DC based food safety and health advocacy group, for failing to use its marketing database, including consumer club cards showing purchase history and other consumer information, when products that it sold have been recalled.

Here, AFS has a leg-up on the situation because the beef went to southern California restaurants, and thus should have no problem getting all recalled product back, or at least getting word out to retailers and distributors that it may have sold the recalled product to.  That information should be readily available in its sales records, and AFS employees should be working overtime (in fact, as this is written), to make sure that the companies they do business with are aware of the situation.