E. Coli traced to company that stopped testing ground beef

A deadly outbreak of E. coli has been traced to a large producer of ground beef that stopped testing its ingredients years ago under pressure from beef suppliers.

A facility in Ashville, N.Y., owned by the company, AFA Foods, recalled more than 500,000 pounds of ground beef on Oct. 31 after it was linked to an outbreak that has killed two people and sickened an estimated 500 others.

The outbreak has fueled a growing concern among grocers that not enough is being done to protect their customers. Trader Joe’s, an upscale chain, said this week that it had stopped buying ground beef from the New York plant and was initiating discussions with other suppliers to have grinders test the trimmings they use in making ground beef.

Although Trader Joe’s remains one of the two markets where our family regularly shops, we’ve halted purchases of ground beef there – in favor of Whole Foods. [1] We had some extra tummy rumblings after consuming the occasional hamburger from their product and [2] they brought in some ground beef from Australia which looked and tasted like there were some significant extras – like bone and gristle – that we didn’t ask for.

AFA Foods has defended its testing protocols, saying they meet the beef industry’s “best practices” guidelines…A farce at best.

The United States Department of Agriculture, which banned the deadly E. coli strain known as 0157:H7 in 1994, has encouraged — but does not require — meat companies to test their products for the pathogen. In the absence of such a rule, meat companies have adopted varied practices.

Which means getting away with every cost-cutting measure possible.

The Department of Agriculture has been run at the beck and call of food producers for decades. I doubt if significant backbone could be found onboard to stand up to the legal mouthpieces – and political flunkies in Congress – who actually define the mediocre standards ruling what we consume in this land.

3 thoughts on “E. Coli traced to company that stopped testing ground beef

  1. gordeecampbell says:

    If that is the way Trader Joe’s and other related retail stores handle their beef products. It should be pointed out that they likely have comparable standards in handling all the meat, fish and dairy products. Usually contamination in beef can be cooked out. Or if in doubt make it part of stew or a chili con carne.

    People these days tend to use microwaves for cooking. Unfortunately, Microwave and quick cooking devices tend not to cook the food completely or thoroughly throughout.

    Many wish to cook meat on the rare side of the equation. But always cook food completely. This won’t be an issue for those who do. Always assume that some of the food is contaminated to begin with.

    • moss says:

      Both Whole Foods and TJ’s have suffered problem with suppliers – not internal to any of their stores. In fact, the one time WF had a situation with contamination, it was a vendor who was charging them for free range beef from Colorado – and substituting wholly sleazy crap from Nebraska.

      WF finally had to add their own sampling and testing to be assured of QC.

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