Almost 100,000 pounds of ground beef are being recalled today after an epidemiological investigation linked E. coli O157:H7 infections in three states to the products.
The meat—sold frozen as ground beef, chopped steak, and pre-formed patties—was produced by Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, on March 10, 2009 and distributed to various consignees nationwide.
A USDA FSIS press release states,
“The problem was discovered through an epidemiological investigation of illnesses. On May 13, 2009, FSIS was informed by the Ohio Department of Health of a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Illnesses have been reported in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.”
The pathogen, found in the poop of warm-blooded animals, can be killed with sufficient heat.
However, as the president and chief executive of the American Frozen Food Institute, Kraig R. Naasz, stated today in a letter to the editor of the New York Times,
“While food safety is a shared responsibility among food producers, government agencies and consumers, we recognize that the primary responsibility rests with food producers. Providing consumers with safe and nutritious products is a responsibility frozen food producers stake their names and reputations on.”
The letter was written in response to the Times’ May 15 article on frozen entrees, which Naasz felt did not “fully depict the frozen food industry’s commitment to product safety.”
With the name and reputation of Valley Meats on the line, will they be able to demonstrate a similar commitment to the safety of food? As the data on those sickened by Valley Meats’ products are released, it’s likely we’ll find out.