It’s Official, Nebraska Beef Has Trouble Controlling E. coli

According to a recently released Associated Press report, federal investigators have just determined that Nebraska Beef Limited’s practices could not effectively control <"">E. coli bacteria on June 24.  Because of this Nebraska Beef’s latest recall has been expanded.

A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokeswoman, Laura Reiser, says that investigators felt that about 160,000 pounds of meat needed to be added to the most recent recall that began last Friday.  This decision came after a USDA review of the Omaha company’s records.  Meanwhile, approximately 1.36 million pounds of primal cuts, subprimal cuts, and boxed beef, that were made on June 17, June 24, and July 8, have now been included in the August 8 recall.

Nebraska Beef’s intact meat products have been linked to 27 illnesses in Canada, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, according to the AP report.  Also, recently, The Washington Post reported that the newest strain that has been coming out of the Massachusetts outbreak is from the same as that E. coli strain which sickened 31 people in 12 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.  Nebraska Beef is the meat supplier and processor implicated in the E. coli outbreak that was linked to Kroger Grocery, as well.

This is not the first time Nebraska Beef has been in the epicenter of seriously questionable practices and food contamination illness and death.  According to the Washington Post, Nebraska Beef has received numerous sanitation violations over the past six years, for example:

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shut down Nebraska Beef three times in 2002 and 2003 after discovering “feces on carcasses, water dripping off pipes onto meat, paint peeling onto equipment, and plugged-up meat wash sinks.”
  • Nebraska Beef was written up no less than five times in 2004 and early 2005 for not removing brains or spinal cords from the food supply, as required.  These parts are of particular concern because it is there that bovine spongiform encephalopathy—mad cow disease—can originate.
  • In August 2006, US inspectors “threatened to suspend Nebraska Beef operations for not following requirements for controlling E. coli.”
  • In 2006, “Minnesota health officials blamed Nebraska Beef for sickening 17 people who ate meatballs at a Minnesota church potluck. Several victims filed lawsuits against Nebraska Beef, including the family of a woman who died.”

Other reports also indicate that in 2003, the USDA went to court in an attempt to try to shut down Nebraska Beef’s Omaha packing plant after citing it for numerous violations.  In 2007, Nebraska Beef sued the USDA saying its inspectors had unfairly targeted it.  Last month, A USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation at two processing plants that collaborated with Nebraska Beef revealed E. coli contamination occurred because some production practices took place under “insanitary” conditions insufficient to prevent E. coli bacteria.

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