Food safety expert warns of ‘nasty bug’ in beef recall

Ex-pat food safety type Ben Chapman, described as currently professoring at North Carolina State University, was brought in by Canadian media today to add his perspective on the creepy crawly E. coli O157:H7 recall that now includes 135 different products.

“(It’s) really a nasty bug. As a father of two little boys, it’s one of the bugs that scares me the most.”

Chapman added that the growing nature of the beef recall shows that authorities "just weren’t able to find out what the history of the (originally suspect) product was, so they’ve essentially recalled everything that producer has put out."

Garfield Balsom, a food safety and recall specialist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agenc, clarified the expanded recall of frozen burgers and steakettes all came from a Saskatoon food-processing plant operating under the name New Food Classics that has since stopped operations.

Chapman recommended using a thermometer to ensure hamburger has reached an internal temperature of 71C , noting that the inside color of meat is not a reliable indicator of how well cooked it is.

Norm Neault, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union local representing New Food Classics workers in Saskatoon, said the company had been struggling for some time and had gone into creditor protection in January. He said it was facing higher prices from its distributors for the raw products yet locked into long-term prices with its customers, resulting in lower profit margins.

The complete list of recalled products can be found online at:

Canadian beef recall expands, rhetoric grows exponentially

That creepy crawly recall of ground beef from a defunct Canadian processor has now expanded to all product in the past seven months.

According to the Toronto Star, the recall started Feb. 18 and has been expanded eight times as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continued its investigation.

The meat is suspected of being contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. One person fell ill in October (yes, October) after eating the meat.

The packaged ready-made beef burgers were produced by New Food Classics of Burlington – aka Establishment 761 – between between July 1, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2012. The company went into receivership Feb. 22.

Hundreds of workers have been locked out of plants in St. Catharines and Saskatoon.

New Food Classics distributed packaged burgers and steakettes under the brand names Best Value, Loblaws’ no name and no name Club Pack, Country Morning and Grillhouse.

In unrelated but ironical news, the union representing CFIA-staffers has resumed negotiations with CFIA but are “wearing black in the workplace, to protest against impending cuts to food inspection, the employer’s lack of respect for administrative staff and the CFIA’s unwillingness to bargain for a fair contract.”

And someone wrote the Ottawa Citizen to say the salmonella-outbreak that has sickened 27 so far from meals associated with The Lunch Lady, is not surprising because, “how can we possibly have safe food when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be reducing the frequency of inspection visits to meat plants? The Government of Canada plans to reduce $21.5 million from its Food Safety Program budget by 2013 to 2014. Because of the magnitude of these cuts, of course, there will be greater risks of foodborne illnesses.”

Of course, that’s just a rhetorical tool in the absence of evidence that more inspectors would make food safer.