Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond
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For the record

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

Cattle covered in manure are a turn off. Carcasses possibly washed with manure contaminated water even more so. So much more so, that on more than one occasion the subject of a Nebraska slaughter facility that had that happen to some of its carcasses in 2006 has come up in the responses to one of my blogs.

 Mostly the issue comes up, I think, to discredit my opinions since I was the Undersecretary when that incident occurred. Just two weeks ago, "concerned" once again raised the issue on a blog about bench trim of all things.  But I want all the readers of this blog to understand what happened here, because I guess until I explain it, it will just keep coming up, and because I am going to use this incident in next week's blog that will provide the ultimate (and of course debatable) solution to E coli and antibiotic resistant Salmonella tainted beef.

A slaughter house's water supply was contaminated with sewer back up, and several hundred carcasses were rinsed with this possibly contaminated water before management was aware of it.  The plant shut down for a day and a half while the water problem was corrected, and these carcasses were in the cooler under control of FSIS. The plant developed a solution to the situation that was acceptable to FSIS's Offices of Field Operations and Public Health and Science.

 The science-based solution was to trim off all surfaces (the part that was adulterated and thus condemned), treat the internal surfaces down to the sub-muscle twice, once with lactic acid and once with peroxy acetic acid, and then test extensively for pathogens. All tests were negative. Trim was required to be cooked and not used as raw ground beef. This was safe meat that had undergone more interventions and more testing than any other meat that year.  This may have a "yuck" factor to it, but so do basic slaughter techniques and facilities.

Next week I will tell you why I think this tested and proven intervention of trimming and reconditioning carcasses could play a role in getting E coli 0157:H7 out of our beef supply.

8/24/2009 11:51 AM 


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