Unnerving news for red meat eaters: Late yesterday, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service officially announced that potentially contaminated ground beef trimmings from Canadian food company XL Foods were distributed in the U.S. and are subject to a recall.
The problem dates back to September 3, when the meat raised concerns about E. coli at the U.S. border. The meat ended up testing positive for contamination, and a recall was issued in Canada on September 16. Yet, somehow, it took until yesterday for FSIS and these U.S. meat companies to reveal they had received and distributed contaminated meat from XL Foods. Not sure how that works!
The trimmings were distributed in California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, according to the recall notice and may have been processed into items like ground beef patties, beef jerky, and pastrami. Fantastic!
Thankfully, there are no known, reported sicknesses linked to the trimmings in the U.S. However, in Canada, health officials are currently investigating five cases of E. coli infections they're not yet linking to this particular recall.
In the meantime, seems like everyone is scrambling around trying to cover themselves. XL Foods released the following statement about their efforts to help the investigation:
We are working in cooperation with all processors and retailers that received this product and instructed them to remove all product from store shelves as quickly as possible ... We understand there are some illnesses being investigated to determine a link between the recalled product ... At this time no linkage has been determined.
Well, whew! Glad we've got that covered.
But, seriously, this is disconcerting. Sure, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves, like only consuming ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F and using a food thermometer that measures internal temperature (the only way to confirm that it has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria). But what about addressing the issue in the long run? It seems like every couple of months, we get slammed with another ground beef recall. (In July, 33 people were infected with a strain of salmonella!) Seems like a serious signal that our food safety system might not be cutting it.
Does this recall worry you?
Image via Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr