Tuesday, March 18


Consumer demand for U.S. ground beef could fall if circumstances that lead to the recall of a record 143 million lbs of meat in February happen again, a top U.S. Agriculture Department official said on Monday. "The industry is right now fighting an image problem with the American consumer," Richard Raymond, the agriculture undersecretary who oversees USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said during the Reuters Food Summit. "We have to make certain what happens with Hallmark never happens again. Another hit like that and I'm afraid you see consumption of ground beef going into a tailspin."

Guess that's why the USDA isn't investigating whether other plants are violating the rules as badly as the randomly-picked Westland/Hallmark, huh? Don't look, don't find, as Michael Hansen says.

And for the record, that "isolated incident" has plenty of company in the more immediately dangerous world of foodborne illness: "The meat industry was hit hard in 2007. A series of large recalls, attributed mostly to E. coli O157:H7, prompted USDA to expand testing and recall infected meat more rapidly to combat the pathogen. The department said 21 recalls related to E. coli in meat occurred, compared with just eight in 2006."

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