Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sam's Club pulls beef patties after E. coli illnesses

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle

The Sam's Club warehouse chain has pulled a brand of ground beef patties from its shelves nationwide after four children who ate the food, produced by Cargill Inc., developed E. coli illness.

Cargill asked customers to return any remaining patties purchased after Aug. 26 to the store or destroy them.

The children became ill between Sept. 10 and Sept. 20 after eating ground beef patties that were bought frozen under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties from three Sam's Club stores in the Twin Cities area.


The Cargill recall comes on the heels of Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps Meat Co.'s recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef amid E. coli concerns. The recall — the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history — caused Topps on Friday to announce that it's going out of business.

The source of the E. coli contamination at Topps is still being investigated, but USDA spokeswoman Sharon Randle said Saturday that the Cargill and Topps cases are not related.

Click here for the rest.

Okay, so I learned about the in's and out's of E. coli contaminated beef a few years back when I read Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation. We didn't have this kind of problem before the late 80s or so: the meat packing industry, in the process of de-unionizing, started using very inexperienced butchers, while at the same time, speeding up the packing process in order to increase profits with heavier volume. The removal of cattle digestive systems, previously performed more slowly and carefully by union butchers, became prone to "spillage" once the union was gone. That is, cow shit, filled with E. coli germs, splattered all over meat destined to be packaged and sold to consumers. Mass marketing of hamburger meat made things worse. Before meatpacking became big, big business, most hamburger meat was ground from a single source by your local butcher; today, however, they do all that in the plant, which means that a single piece of contaminated beef could be combined with countless pieces of uncontaminated meat, thereby spreading the germs widely.

The meat packing industry's solution was to recommend that consumers never eat hamburger meat that hasn't been cooked to at least a medium temperature. Consequently, there is a very good chance that we've all eaten cow shit with our hamburgers, albeit healthy cow shit with dead E. coli germs.

Anyway, all these periodic E. coli outbreaks are avoidable, and people are getting sick and dying because of capitalist greed, ideological disdain, and a compliant and pointless governmental regulation system. I guess tens of thousands of innocent Americans are going to have to die, in mass, before anything is done to fix this.