Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond
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Recall Recoil

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(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

When is too much information not enough information? When you read the latest FSIS recall notice about 41,280 pounds of whole muscle cuts being recalled by JBS Swift Beef Company, that's when.


The recall notice has a full page with 11 bullets listing the products, the case code numbers, package dates, etc., none of which is of much interest to the average consumer or food safety cynic.  It then concludes with an oversimplified sentence that reads "The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling and an investigation into the distribution of other products." Usually these recall notices end with something like:  There have been no reported illnesses in connection with the recalled product. Does this omission mean there have been illnesses? One can only wonder, and possibly conclude that there has been.


In addition, one is left to their own methods to decipher what is meant by "discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling" since FSIS does not sample whole muscle cuts. Usually this statement means sampling of ground beef at a grinding establishment. If this is true here, it means the latest recall of whole muscle cuts  by JBS Swift was a result of FSIS doing traceback, something that several frequent detractors of FSIS claim they do not do an adequate job at. Seems like a little more information might actually help FSIS make a positive statement about their ongoing but little understood efforts to make our food supply safer.


It is my assumption, and I hate having to assume, that whole muscle cuts were sold and cut into steaks and bench trim was generated that then went into stew meat and/or ground beef. As stated in previous blogs, this trim is not tested as opposed to the trim generated at the large slaughter plants, and we need to start doing something differently when this bench trim is used for ground products. Test and hold would be a good start. See my previous blog on that topic:

Lastly, was the positive sampling  on a product that was held until testing results were available, thus making this the only recall associated with the product, or was product recalled earlier that was linked to this recall? Consumers want to know, at least I do.


How about you?

6/25/2009 12:36 PM 





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