Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year.  In fact, they are the second most common type of bodily infection, accounting for about 8.3 million doctor visits annually.  Escherichia coli–a family of bacteria that includes E. coli O157 and other shiga-toxin producing strains, as well as certain generic

In 1992 and 1993 when the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak occurred, and I got my introduction as an attorney to outbreak-related litigation, the meat industry looked very different than it does so today. The company that manufactured the hamburger patties for Jack in the Box—Vons Companies, Inc.—purchased meat to grind into hamburger from numerous companies, including Beef Packers Inc., Cattleman’s Choice, Fresno Meat Co., Monfort Inc., Orleans International Inc., RBR Meat Co., Service Packing Co. and Westland Inc. At the time, most of these companies were regionally-based, and not vertically integrated. Consequently, there were separate companies that ran slaughterhouse, boning operations, and packers, each sourcing from within their more immediate area of operations. There were also local and regional feedlots.

Today, that has all changed. Instead, there are huge mega-plants that combine all aspects of meat-production in a single, tightly integrated operation that produces meat products that are then distributed nationwide. That is why when you have E. coli O157:H7 outbreak involving meat products, the illness and death are widely spread, and the initial source of the contamination is sometimes difficult to trace back to its source. Back in the day, it simply was not possible to have product recalls involving millions of pounds of meat because no one was really producing and distributing it on that scale.So if you are looking for an additional argument in favor of a more local and regional based food supply, the prevention of mega-outbreak, courtesy of “Big Meat” (also known as the mega-meat industry, or  Cargill/Conagra/Tyson triumvirate), is definitely a compelling one–in my humble opinion.

With this thought in mind, click on the Continue Reading link and check out a press release that was forwarded to me yesterday, which announced a recently released report about the demise of local small meat processing operations. And if you’re so inclined, read the entire report. It’s worth your time.Continue Reading A Big Reason Outbreaks involving meat are so big: Mega-Meat Plants

Cloning of livestock is back in the news and, depending on how you interpret the developments, the science could either be a boon for food safety, or a bust for consumer confidence.

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released some documents indicating that food from cloned animals or their offspring is indistinguishable from

Jim Parsons of Channel 4 Action News (PA) reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture told Team 4 that agents are in the midst of an investigation into the possible distribution of spoiled meat in western Pennsylvania.
That investigation has been going on for at least eight months, and we don’t know how it will end.
But in the meantime, what are the lessons for consumers? Lesson No. 1: Don’t rely solely on expiration dates to tell you whether the meat product you’re buying is spoiled.Continue Reading Team 4 investigates bad meat for sale

Sharon Cohen of the Associated Press reports that Martin Cortez works in a world of long knives and huge saws, blood and bone, arctic chill and sweltering heat. This is life on the line as a meatpacker.
It’s no place for the squeamish. Some workers can’t stomach the gore — chopping up the meat and bones of hundreds of cattle, day after day. Cortez has been at it more than 30 years. It also can be very dangerous. Some workers have been slashed, burned or scarred. He has not.
Even so, Martin Cortez, a soft-spoken man with sad eyes, doesn’t recommend the work. The thrashing animals, the heavy lifting … all that goes into putting steak and hamburger on America’s dinner tables, he says, makes for a backbreaking day on the killing floor.Continue Reading Meatpacking-A new jungle?