Friday, August 05, 2011

36,000,000 Pounds Of Ground Turkey Recalled

The US Department of Agriculture reports:
"WASHINGTON, August 3, 2011 - Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, a Springdale, Ark. establishment, is recalling approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that may be contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today."
- USDA/FSIS: Arkansas Firm Recalls Ground Turkey Products Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination
According to Bill Marler, this is the largest Class I recall on record. A Class I recall, he notes, is defined by USDA/FSIS as:
"This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."
How did we get to a place where:John Munsell, one of the commenters on Bill Marler's blog, wrote:
"FSIS is paralyzed with fear of litigation, if the agency were bold and stupid enough to tell one of the major packers (many are multinational) that they must implement corrective actions or face withdrawal of the agency's inspection team. The major packers have deep pockets (enabling legal threats), and enjoy political clout via campaign contributions."
- John Munsell's comment on: USDA Should Immediately Grant CSPI's Petition On Salmonella Heidelberg, Salmonella Newport, Salmonella Hadar, And Salmonella Typhimurium
I'm sorry to say I believe him.
Photo from SeattlePI:
"Fans blow cooling air onto cages of live turkeys at the Cargill turkey processing plant in Springdale, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011."


Angela and Melinda said...

Don't eat meat/poultry. A large percentage of subsidized industrial-ag products (corn, soy) goes to feeding livestock (and as collateral damage, helping to ruin the environment as well as organically grown foods [when GM-bred crops cross-contaminate]). It's horrible for the animals. And it's bad for us. Seems pretty simple to me. The more people who stop demanding meat, the better things will get, at least on some fronts. Imho.

Unknown said...

I don't remember, or it wasn't covered, or maybe I missed some classes, but why are so many made sick by salmonella-tainted meat?

Is it all improper handling/cooking, or maybe if the meat is tainted long enough with salmonella that it might produce some kind of toxin which isn't destroyed when cooked?

I'm pretty sure I remember that salmonella (and e coli) do not produce spores (like botulism), which require super high temps like pressure cooking to destroy. But my memory of what produces toxins is murky.

Bix said...

Some very good points there, Melinda. It will be a hard sell for people who eat low-carb diets.

Bix said...

I'm no bacteria expert, but I'll guess that infection has to do with consuming live organism ... whether through cross-contamination or undercooked food.

Speaking of cross-contamination ... whenever I'm handling raw meat, I take pains to prevent it, more than in the past. It's challenging! Scrubbing cutting boards, knives and utensils, sinks, countertops, towels ... all before I can use them again.

One day my mind will not be so prescient and I will be wiping the countertops with what my life partner calls the "chicken towel." I know it.

Angela and Melinda said...

Just tonight on the news, a genome scientist working on a Cargill-sponsored research project at the U of Minnesota says he may have discovered a natural substance that will kill the bacteria in commercially bred meat. What strikes me is how, if that's true, it will allow industrial ranchers to keep treating their animals abusively and in filthy conditions, and how the killing of, say, E. coli in meat/poultry might mask the presence of other toxic substances that might have a more long-term effect. Faugh!!!

Bix said...

Half of me says "that's great," the other half says "that's terrible." Actually, more than half of me says "that's terrible" for the reasons you describe.

Industrial livestock farming won't go away anytime soon. And if we regulate more testing and inspection, I think it will push producers into these hare-brained solutions. I don't know the answer.

Hare-brained because ... We just can't keep turning a blind eye to what this style of meat production is doing to the environment. It comes back to hurt us in other ways.

Bix said...

Another thing I was thinking...

If humans are so dependent on bacteria for existence (we carry around 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells), are livestock that dependent? Do we kill livestock's beneficial bacteria too? What does it do to the animal, and to the animal that eats the animal?

Are we setting ourselves up for even more antibiotic-resistant infectious bacteria down the road?

Well, I guess these things are already considered. I should be more trusting.

Angela and Melinda said...

I can't imagine, on the basis of industry's (or pharmaceuticals, for that matter) performance, would make you think you should be more trusting!

Unknown said...

Bix, I also worry more about cross-contamination than I used to. Now I try to prep all my meat at once, not before a meal, but after shopping for a big (for us) amount of meat. Then after the smaller packs of cut or diced meat are in the freezer, I can do a big clean. Finally when I use a thawed package, I only have to dump it in the pan, toss the wrapper, wash my hands (then the sink handle).

I worry more about getting salmonella (and e coli) from produce, since much of it is eaten raw. I haven't bought pre-cut produce in years. I don't worry about getting sick from eating out, since I've hardly eaten out in years due to my strong food-additive sensitivity (not all, but at least 3).

Bix said...

Ha! A woman after my own heart. I liked this part: "I can do a big clean." I'll tell you, I crazy clean after I've touched raw meat. Life improved drastically after I started using rubber gloves.

I agree with you about eating out. I had some terrible reactions to salads I ate.

Leo said...

I used to love turkey products, and then one time I got a turkey loaf from Jenni-O, and it made me sick. I do wanna try the Carl's Juniors turkey burgers though. ;) peace

Bix said...

Turkey loaf.