The Checkout

Where's the beef addendum

I promised you the beef industry's thoughts on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's move to adopt a regulation that would allow it to release the names of retail establishments that received recalled meat. Dave Ray of the American Meat Institute was kind enough to send us something.
You can read the group's comments here.

The short version is AMI thinks releasing that information is a bad idea and that recalls are effective as they are.

While we're on the subject of meat, I thought I'd mention that the USDA Office of Inspector General released a memo on USDA's sampling and testing regime for E. coli O157:H7. I wrote not too long ago about issues with USDA's data collection.

Normally, this type of thing would be considered too far in the weeds, but given that last year's surge in E. coli-related beef recalls still has the industry and regulators stumped, how the agency collects information on the presence of pathogens in our food has become important.

The OIG's memo raised questions about USDA ability to detect whether meat processors are doing what they're supposed to be doing to keep O157:H7 out of our hamburgers. Officials with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service told the OIG that "the rate at which individual establishments are currently sampled (at most once a month) does not allow for a statistically valid determination of the effectiveness of the food safety system of an individual establishment in a given year."

The OIG goes on to say multiple samples taken from the same product lot over a period of intervals throughout the day would provide a more representative sample, but USDA would have a tough time doing that with its current resources.

You can read the entire memo here.

By Annys Shin |  February 27, 2008; 11:06 AM ET Consumer News
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I wasn't able to get back to this yesterday (work kept me away, how rude!), but I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that the USDA won't release a list of who sold the bad beef. I know it's probably a moot point and all the stuff has been eaten, but I still think people have a right to know. And what about the folks (like my Grandmother) who have a HUGE freezer and keep things like pre-made hamburger patties for years? (She is a child of the Depression, nothing goes to waste in her house.) It just screams shadiness that the gov. won't fess up. But I'm becoming to expect this of our government and it's very disheartning.

Posted by: melissamac1 | February 27, 2008 2:26 PM

So my grocery store doesn't sell any of the beef, but we were just alerted to a recall of soup containing the contaminated beef (Italian Wedding Progresso Soup). Sorry to feed your paranoia, but the beef on the shelf in the store is safer than the packaged meat on the shelf.

Posted by: Grocery Employee | February 27, 2008 10:09 PM

General Mills announced a recall of two Progresso Italian Wedding Soup brands, in accordance with the recent Westland/Hallmark beef recall.

As a result of Progresso soup recall, the Defense Commissary Agency has removed the following products from its shelves:

* Pro Microwave Bowl Italian-Style Wedding, 15.25-ounce bowl, UPC 41196-40339; Best-If-Used-By date "05JAN9."

* Pro Soup Italian-Style Wedding, 18.5-ounce can, UPC 41196-91505; Best-If-Used-By date "12OCT9 - 08NOV9."

Upon learning of the Westland/Hallmark beef recall, General Mills found that a supplier had sourced beef from this vendor. No other Progresso or General Mills products are involved.

Consumers can contact the General Mills consumer hot line at 1-800-200-9377. Commissary customers can return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. Customers can also get more information on this and other recalls by going to the Food Safety section and access links to various consumer safety sites.

Posted by: Beef is here... | February 27, 2008 10:12 PM

There is a new General Counsel at the CPSC. Have you done any investigation into her? Where does she stand on consumer protection? He bio syas she advised clients on consumer product issues, but it sounds like she advised buisness. Nice that its not a Schedule C appoitment anymore, but what does this mean for consumers?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 3, 2008 1:07 PM

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