One Case Shows Why it Can Take Weeks
Meat can be recalled days, even weeks, after it has appeared on store shelves — and well past the expiration date. Here, from data provided by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, is an account of one meat recall case this year:
April 5: Michigan state Department of Agriculture notifies the Madison, Wis., district office of E. coli illnesses. The Madison district notifies district enforcement at FSIS headquarters.
April 5-24: FSIS and the state of Michigan conduct an investigation into the illnesses. Investigators work to determine if numerous illnesses were linked and the possible source of the illnesses.
April 24: FSIS requests a sample from a lot of product produced at a plant that was potentially implicated as the source of the outbreak.
April 27: Product from the potentially implicated lot is located and a sample collected.
April 30: Sample sent to FSIS laboratory.
May 1: Sample received by laboratory.
May 5: Sample confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7. When the positive result was confirmed, the Recall Management Division initiates a product recall.
May 5: Emmpak Foods Inc. of Wisconsin recalls 471,000 pounds of ground beef at the urging of the FSIS.