Valley Meats recalled hamburger due to E.
coli O157:H7 contamination AFTER illnesses were found in Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Illinois – Why are we not all “Testing and Holding?”
of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Valley Meats LLC, a Coal
Valley, Illinois grinding plant recalled approximately 95,898 pounds of
ground beef that might have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
announced in late May.
However, the problem was
discovered through an epidemiological investigation of illnesses, NOT
before the meat made it between hamburger buns. On May 13, 2009, FSIS was
informed by the Ohio Department of Health of a cluster of E. coli O157:H7
infections. Illnesses have now been reported in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Illinois. About a dozen people were sickened and one young girl in Ohio
So, where was Valley
Meats “Test and Hold” food safety program? Shouldn’t the objective be to
mitigate consumer risks associated with the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and
other Shiga-toxin E. coli? Shouldn’t every USDA inspected slaughter
facility, grinding operation and grocer utilize a “Test and Hold” program
using science-based, robust serial sampling of finished ground beef
products? Shouldn’t the testing include PCR/DNA genetic testing to identify
a specific DNA strand unique to E. coli O157:H7 so if people do become ill,
they can be linked to the source?
True, you cannot “Test
and Hold” your way to complete food safety. You cannot test all hamburgers
before it hits a consumer’s kitchen. However, we can test more – perhaps in
part to validate a plant’s HACCP program – perhaps in part to try and save
the life of one young girl.