Rep. DeLauro says firm is repeat offender

Last week’s recall of approximately 22,723 pounds of ground beef because of possible salmonellosis contamination has drawn an angry response from a long-time Congressional food industry critic.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) says the processor, Beef Packers, Inc., of Fresno, Calif., should be shut down. DeLauro says the firm has been the subject of a recent investigation by USA Today regarding their participation in the National School Lunch Program, and has been suspended from the program three times for safety concerns.

"This is another glaring example of the problems we face in our nation’s food safety system. Beef Packers, Inc. has repeatedly shown their inability to meet current safety measures, and continues to pose a health risk not only to the general population, but to our children through the school lunch program," DeLauro said. "Given the repeated violations of Beef Packers, Inc., the USDA should close this facility and undertake a comprehensive examination into the process at Cargill-BPI to identify and correct any major problems internally or with their suppliers."

The Cargill-owned company has a history of food safety issues, including a nearly 860,000 pound recall earlier this year of meat contaminated with the same strain of salmonellosis suspected in this recall.

According to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service, the suspect ground beef products were produced on September 23, 2009 and bear the establishment number "EST. 31913" printed on the case code labels. The ground beef products were distributed to a retail distribution center in Arizona.

Because these products were repackaged into consumer-size packages and sold under different retail brand names, consumers should check with their local retailer to determine whether they may have purchased any of the products subject to recall, according to FSIS.