After 2nd Salmonella Recall, Lawmaker Calls for Closure, Inspection of Beef Packers Inc. Plant

A second <"">Salmonella recall by Beef Packers Inc. has prompted one lawmaker to call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to shut down the troubled meat processor until it can be inspected and given a clean bill of health.

According to a report in USA Today, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, made the request, stating in a news release that Beef Packers “continues to pose a health risk not only to the general population but to our children through the school lunch program.”

Last week, we reported that Beef Packers, a unit of Cargill, had recalled more than 22,000 lbs of potentially Salmonella-tainted ground beef. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), ground beef involved in this most recent Beef Packers’ recall may be linked to two cases of Salmonella Newport.

It was only back in August that Beef Packers recalled more than 800,000 lbs of ground beef because of the same pathogen. The frozen ground beef products involved in the earlier recall were tied to 39 cases of Salmonella Newport in 11 states.

At the time of the first recall, Beef Packers was a major supplier to the National School Lunch Program. A previous USA Today investigation had revealed that the federal government purchased 450,000 lbs of Beef Packers ground beef made during the dates covered by the August recall, some of which was destined for schools. However, the recall was issued only at the retail level, and did not include Beef Packers’ products sent to schools. USDA officials told USA Today that the meat sent to schools tested negative for Salmonella, but many food safety experts maintain that it still should have been recalled.

According to USA Today, neither the government nor Beef Packers knows where the ground beef made for schools during the recall period is today — or whether it has been consumed. The USDA doesn’t track ground beef once it has been sent to the processor, and ground beef from one supplier is often mixed with other orders from other suppliers before being shipped to states.

In her press release, DeLauro cited the USA Today investigation, and called on the USDA to “undertake a comprehensive examination” of the Beef Packers facility in Fresno, California, to “identify and correct any major problems” before it produces more beef.

A spokesperson for the USDA told USA Today that the agency would work “aggressively” to see that problems at Beef Packers are fixed, however, no mention was made of a plant shut down. The USDA officials also said that Beef Packers has not supplied food to schools since July.

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