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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swift Beef for the Technical Geeks

Below I found a source of information with some additional information about E coli if you suspect you've eaten "bad cow". For those interested there is a host of information on this site about previous recalls and ongoing lawsuits on previous recalls and food supply system failures. Personally I noted how easy it is for the problem to go unreported and unrecognized which gives a lot of credibility to educating consumers on how to cook their beef to the 160 degrees required as a commenter added in to an earlier blog post. It is about protecting yourself and your family rather than just taking the pressure off JBS/Swift to do their jobs correctly.

I wonder what the tolerable industry standard rate is for E coli. Comparatively then the question becomes what magnitude of deviation JBS's business practices (and mega-production facility) are causing variance from that rate and how significantly their arguably poor business practices contribute to that variance.

A little more research on the subject and the depth and complexity of the argument begins to unfold and to my untrained brain it looks like a fuzzy and poor regulatory environment (given Mr. Munsell's, below, take on things) gives an umbrella of cover for JBS to argue it isn't their fault... exactly. Wiggle room in other words. However the wash bath on the meat wasn't completed according to the Denver Post article. The question I don't know the answer to is whether or not this process is legally required or not. I do know that in my opinion highly ethical companies strategically avoid "wiggle-room" breaches as it damages their brand in the long run and potential long term ROI for stakeholders. Ethics in a corporate environment aren't much good if the standard produced is lower than the law. Ethics serve to create a standard greater than what the law demands inside a company. Here today--gone tomorrow attitudes are very risky for the employee and the consumer.

Well one thing for sure, the attorneys involved will be making money and feeding our economy even if 8.5 million other people are out of work.

*Please note however both links are to commercial service sites. (Okay, in fewer words) It is the home of attorneys looking for business. They have an interest in supplying facts but they also have a commercial interest in choosing which facts to supply. In the professional world one would hope that professionalism reigns supreme--but then that is the Good Ship Lollipop version of reality--so understand the potential for bias while reading is my advice. As I have said several times before I know attorneys that exude integrity in their professionalism and then again I have met a few ambulance chasers in my life before too. People are people. Good and bad.

And I promise to go back onto other issues soon. Really.

A portion of Mr. Munsell's comment on Marler Blog as posted.

"John Munsell - June 28, 2009 8:39 AM

FSIS and JBS-Swift are way off base not only on this expansion of the recall, as well as on the initial, smaller recall. The initial recall was for Bottom Butt Ball Tips, which is an intact cut of meat (not ground up......YET). According to today's agency press release, "The recalled products include intact cuts of beef, such as primals, sub-primals, or boxed beef typically used for steakd and roasts rather than ground beef". End quote. These recalls are unjustified, opposed to sacred HACCP protocol, contrary to previous agency position statements on intact beef cuts, and blurrs the determination of which meat plant or plants are responsible for the presence of the E.coli. In the past, FSIS has acciduously concluded that intact cuts of meat (which are being recalled in this scenario) which are surface contaminated with E.coli are NOT considered to be adulterated. The agency's rationale for this official position statement is that intact cuts of meat are NOT intended to be ground up. The entire industry has always produced substantial trim emanating from the further processing of these intact cuts, and made ground beef from the trimmings. Can you imagine buying a half of beef, only to be told by the meat plant that you won't get any burger from it, because the intact cut of beef (the beef carcass) has been determined by FSIS that it was not intended for grinding! Furthermore, many plants purchase intact 2-piece boneless chucks and grind the entire intact cuts into burger. FSIS is not alone in its historical stance that intact cuts are NOT intended for grinding, because many large slaughter establishments include this statement on their invoices on which they ship boxed beef intact cuts into commerce: "NOT INTENDED FOR GRINDING". Therefore, realizing that both FSIS and their closest ally (the big packers) have historically and consistently stated that intact beef cuts are "Not Intended for Grinding", then all the establishments which purchased the meat involved in this recall which have ground any of the meat should be held liable for all sicknesses in the various states referred to in this expanded recall notice. If you think I am incorrect, please notice that in the past, FSIS has always held the downline destination further processing plants fully responsible to (a) purify incoming meat which has been previously contaminated with invisible pathogens, and (b) pressure its source slaughter providers to implement corrective actions to prevent future recurrences of producing contaminated meat. These small downstream further processing plants totally lack the power to force their source suppliers to clean up their act. And, with ever-decreasing numbers of source slaughter providers from which to purchase their meat, these small downline plants keep their mouths shut, realizing they will likely be blackballed by their source slaughter providers if they are stupid enough to attempt to demand their suppliers clean up their act."


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Are You Part of an E. coli Outbreak? How to Find Out if You Have E. coli O157:H7 | Ecoli Lawyer
3) This is important: Non-specific supportive therapy, including hydration, is important. Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection. There is no evidence that treatment with antibiotics is helpful, and taking antibiotics may increase the risk of HUS. Antidiarrheal agents like Imodium® may also increase that risk. Thus, if you receive antibiotics, it may cause you harm and make it impossible to detect the E. coli O157:H7.

4) If you have left over food that you suspect made you sick, do not throw it out or return it for a refund. Lab testing of the product may confirm the presence of E. coli O157:H7. Thus, if your stool is not tested or if the test is negative, it still may be possible to link your symptoms to the outbreak if the product tests positive for E. coli O157:H7. Therefore, seal the unused food in a plastic bag, mark the bag so it is not used or consumed accidentally, and continue to store it in your refrigerator until it is tested.


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