Jun 2, 2011

e coli helper

From an old article.
The retail giant Costco is one of the few big producers that tests trimmings for E. coli before grinding, a practice it adopted after a New York woman was sickened in 1998 by its hamburger meat, prompting a recall.

Craig Wilson, Costco’s food safety director, said the company decided it could not rely on its suppliers alone. “It’s incumbent upon us,” he said. “If you say, ‘Craig, this is what we’ve done,’ I should be able to go, ‘Cool, I believe you.’ But I’m going to check.”

Costco said it had found E. coli in foreign and domestic beef trimmings and pressured suppliers to fix the problem. But even Costco, with its huge buying power, said it had met resistance from some big slaughterhouses. “Tyson will not supply us,” Mr. Wilson said. “They don’t want us to test.”

A Tyson spokesman, Gary Mickelson, would not respond to Costco’s accusation, but said, “We do not and cannot” prohibit grinders from testing ingredients. He added that since Tyson tests samples of its trimmings, “we don’t believe secondary testing by grinders is a necessity.”

The food safety officer at American Foodservice, which grinds 365 million pounds of hamburger a year, said it stopped testing trimmings a decade ago because of resistance from slaughterhouses. “They would not sell to us,” said Timothy P. Biela, the officer. “If I test and it’s positive, I put them in a regulatory situation. One, I have to tell the government, and two, the government will trace it back to them. So we don’t do that.”


Anonymous said...

Sigh - wish stuff like this was just opened up to the marketplace through data transparency. Wonder if there's a business opp a la "Dolphin Safe".

C. Fuzzbang said...

This is how laissez faire is misused by anti-regulationists. Laissez faire REQUIRES transparency from the buyer's point of view. But we (consumers) rarely get anything close to that. I never internalized this until the recent derivative meltdown.

It's ultimately self-destructive behavior in the long term though. I mean are you likely to be consuming meat from the Tyson's of the world? I know I'm not. But that requires access to choice and money unfortunately.