More than two million pounds of ground beef has been recalled since spring and unlike past years the major cause is not the deadly E. coli 0157:H7.

Instead it is two drug resistant strains of Salmonella that are said to be responsible for almost 1.3 million of the total of 2.1 million pounds of ground beef recalled so far in 2009. 

The latest recall is related to a multi-state Salmonella outbreak in the West that has made a couple dozen people sick and because antibiotics are not working treatment is taking longer,  say health officials.

Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 was linked to the 466,236 pounds of ground beef recalled July 22nd by the Denver-based King Sooper’s grocery store chain. A spokesman for the Food Safety & Inspection Service said it was the first time ground beef was recalled for salmonella contamination.

Late yesterday—just two weeks later—it happened again as Beef Packers Inc. of Fresno, CA recalled 825,769 pounds of ground beef implicated in the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Newport.

Both the DT104 and Newport strains are proving resistant to treatment with antibiotics, meaning more difficult recoveries for those poisoned by Salmonella.

There have been eight ground beef recalls for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination this year, adding up to a total of 568,635 pounds.  

Largest of the E coli actions so far in 2009 was the June 24-28 recalls by JBM Swift Co. of 421,280 pounds from its Greeley, CO Beef Plant. Earlier on June 2nd, SP Provisions of Portland, OR recalled 39,973 pounds of ground beef, and on May 21st Valley Meats in Illinois recalled 95,898 pounds.

There was also a May 29th recall of 241,000 pounds of beef by Holten Meat, Inc. of Sauget, IL that did not involve either E. coli or Salmonella. “Foreign objects” had gotten into the shipment and it was rounded up in a low health risk incident.