Tuesday, November 19


On FRIDAY, *cough* at the same time Wampler was re-opening its listeria-outbreak-linked plant here, and the USDA was finalizing a presentation promising War on Listeria - just like the venerable War on E.Coli about three months ago - frustrated USDA inspectors were walking out of the old ConAgra plant in Greeley, CO, forcing the plant to close by their action. What plant was this? Why, the same one that cause the huge, second-biggest-ever recall in July due to, that's right, E.Coli! AFTER the huge recall, the plant had already been cited another 19 TIMES for fecal contamination. As the Denver Post explained in its opening sentence, "The federal government shut down the former ConAgra beef plant in Greeley on Friday after repeatedly finding feces smeared on meat over a period of several months." Don't worry, though, "smear" tastes fine once you cook it.

Really, though, what the hell kind of War is this? Why wasn't the plant closed after its FIRST infraction, post-recall? That's recidivism, isn't it? OK, so they give it another chance to really clean up its act. So why didn't the SECOND citation trigger some kind of stronger action? The THIRD? FOURTH? FIFTH? etc. etc. and etc.! How can anyone take this "agency" seriously?

UPDATE: Tuesday morning, the Denver Post reported that the plant is now reopening, and attempted to answer the number question above (though not, alas, the "seriously" question). An interesting fact I overlooked in the original shutdown story is that the whole thing was timed to coincide with a three-day weekend for the company, so it lost almost no production time. As one inspector said, "It just seems too perfectly planned." I guess that's how it is when you have the USDA as your PR agency. At least they can do something right.

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