Monday, November 05, 2007

Beef Recall

Carnivores in the northeast heard of another beef recall this weekend.

More than a million pounds of ground beef produced at the Cargill plant in Wyalusing (PA) has been recalled because it may be contaminated by E. coli bacteria.

The ground beef products recalled were produced at the Wyalusing plant between October 8 and 11, 2007, and were distributed to retailers nationwide.

Cargill learned of the possibility of contamination after the U.S. Department of Agriculture returned a confirmed positive on a sample of product produced October 8, 2007.

"No illnesses have been associated with this product," said John Keating, president, Cargill Regional Beef. "We are working closely with the USDA to remove the product from the marketplace."

A complete list of store brands and product descriptions affected is here.

I don't need to detail the problems with E. coli bacteria; it is widely known. It seems every few months there's another news report about beef or vegetables contaminated by E. coli, so no one should be completely in the dark (but click on the CDC link above, if you are).

The issue that bugs me, however, is this: unless you're a fan of steak tartar, you have almost a zero-chance of being affected by this contamination. Cook your meat to 160° and you and yours will be fine.

While I recognize pork is not on every one's menu, anyone who does eat it knows you must cook it to 170° to avoid trichinosis. Yet we never hear recalls because someone failed to follow this procedure.

Mind you: I am not saying you shouldn't eat beef prepared rare. I am a found of cooking my steaks (for my own consumption) just a tad past mooing. Many people speak of the health benefits of rare steak, I just like mine red and dripping.

The point is, while proper cleanliness is essential in all forms of food preparation (and especially where E. coli is concerned, it is a simple case of abject laziness and poor employee oversight) we're becoming hysterical with these recalls. Yes, the food ought NOT be tainted, but if it is properly cooked there isn't a need for these millions of dollars of beef being trashed.



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