For heaven's sake. Here's a warning I got this morning:
A meat company issued a nationwide recall yesterday for 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products after reports of up to 25 cases of illness caused by suspected E. coli bacteria in eight states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, federal officials reported. A Topps Meat Company spokesman said most of the 21.7 million pounds of ground beef the company recalled has already been consumed. The recall, by the Topps Meat Company of Elizabeth, N.J., covers a wide range of frozen hamburger patties and other products manufactured over the last year and bearing a “sell by” date or “best used by” date between last Tuesday and Sept. 25, 2008, along with the United States Department of Agriculture designation EST 9748. The voluntary recall, an expanded version of one issued last Tuesday for nearly 332,000 pounds of Topps beef, was the first in one of the nation’s largest meat processing concerns. It was also one of the larger meat recalls of recent years, the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Inspection Service said. Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the service, said the expanded recall was based on an additional sample of meat contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 strain, as reported by the New York State Health Department; by findings of an inspection service safety assessment; and by reports of illnesses under inquiry in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In Florida, Scott P. Schlesinger, a lawyer for Samantha Safranek, 15, of Pembroke Pines, said she became ill after eating a Topps hamburger on Aug. 17, was hospitalized on Aug. 23, and underwent dialysis before recovering. He said federal and Florida health officials confirmed the E. coli link to Topps on Sept. 7, and he questioned why it took so long to recall the products.
It seems the bigger and more powerful our Government becomes, the less we are protected from such things.
Some years back I met a gentleman who had retired from his job as a Federal meat inspector here in New Mexico. I asked him then about the sudden rash of "wash your hands after handling meat", "make sure your meat is cooked well enough to kill bacteria" advertising that seemed to just suddenly appear. I pointed out to him that while I was in college, we had had many parties where raw high quality hamburger was served and no one got sick from eating it. What, I demanded to know, is going on here now? How come my favorite meat is dangerous?
He had retired, he said, because, 1: he had enough time in to draw his pension and 2: the Federal Government had changed the rules on how meat was being hung and treated in the abbatoires. It seems, he told me, that before the method was changed, the hide was stripped from the carcass and deposited in a special room. Thus, the fur never touched any meat. The Feds changed the method since the sellers of the beef claimed they weren't always given credit for their beeves. (After all, the brand is only on the hide.) So, in order to make sure every rancher got paid correctly it was decreed that the hide would be separated from the meat, but left hanging on the carcass. And that, he concluded, is how beef gets infected with these horrible diseases. The hair, carrying the bugs, rubs against the raw meat. And now you know why you need to clean your cutting boards with strong disinfectants every time you use them. And why it's recommended that you wash your hands after handling beef.
Our Government in action.