E. coli O157:H7 originates in the intestines of cattle. Cattle, as many as 6,000 a day, are killed, processed and packed at the Greeley Beef Plant owned by JBS Swift USA.
Yet JBS says the beef products it has recalled were contaminated outside their Colorado slaughtering plant because it was their customers that through trimming and grinding turned whole muscle cuts into ground beef.
“The ground beef that might have been associated with illness was produced by other companies, who often do not use the antimicrobial intervention steps we employ in our facility to reduce the risk of the beef products, JBS spokesman Chandler Keys told the Grand Island Independent.
“Nevertheless, we have agreed to expand our recall of whole muscle cuts out of an abundance of caution for consumers,” Keys said.
JBS upped its original June 24th beef recall to at least 380,000 pounds on June 28th after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) linked meat produced by the Greeley Beef Plant to a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7.
The attempt to shift blame to its wholesale customers who took possession of the meat produced by the JBS facility on April 21st is unusual to say the least. JBS is the third largest beef producer in the United States, and is owned by the world’s largest beef producer, Brazilian-based JBS SA.
Keys says its wholesale customers are being contacted by phone and mail. He says the company is “working closely with the USDA to ensure that product is removed from the marketplace and the recall is completed successfully.”
Chances are what’s left of this tainted meat is not in the marketplace,” but in somebody’s freezer. Unless and until it’s connected with a retail source, most people are clueless as to whether they bought the bad meat.
There’s a PDF file of the products JBS produced on April 21st that are included in the retail, but that does not help anyone much. Keys offers the fairly useless suggestion people go have a chat with the butcher at their local retail store. Lot’s of luck with that one.
The solution to the problem is public release of the list of the meat-receiving retailers, something the Bush Administration began during last year’s E. coli season. Under the new Obama Administration, however, that new policy has seen spotty enforcement.
Almost a week after the JBS beef recall began, there has been no list of retailers issued by either USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service, nor JBS. Nothing, nada, zip.