Food Industry, USDA Criticized For Recent Salmonella Outbreak, Egg Recall
USA Today reports that food safety groups are slamming how well U.S. Department of Agriculture regulated the farms implicated in the salmonella outbreak. "Though USDA says its authority was limited, the agency's egg graders were at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms at least 40 hours a week - including before the outbreak - inspecting the size and quality of eggs inside processing buildings. Food safety watchdogs question whether USDA egg graders should have noticed the vermin problems cited by the FDA, potentially preventing the recall of a half billion eggs and an outbreak that is linked to about 1,500 reported illnesses" (Young, 9/2).
"The criminal division of the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department have joined the probe of the Iowa farm at the heart of the recent egg recall linked to an outbreak of salmonella, according to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg," The Wall Street Journal reports. "'There is a formal investigation going on that extends beyond the FDA inspections that are focused on farm practice,' Dr. Hamburg told reporters Wednesday. 'It is the case that an investigation is under way. We are pursuing it with our partners in law enforcement'" (Mundy, 9/2).
Meanwhile, for "the first time in this country, public health officials have linked ground beef to illnesses from a rare strain of E. coli," The New York Times reports. "Cargill Meat Solutions recalled 8,500 pounds of hamburger on Saturday after investigators determined that it was the likely source of a bacterial strain known as E. coli O26, which had sickened three people in Maine and New York. Under federal rules, it is illegal to sell ground beef containing a more common strain of the bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, which has been responsible for thousands of illnesses, many deaths and the recall of millions of pounds of beef over the years. But federal regulators are now considering whether to give the same illegal status to at least six other E. coli strains, including O26" (Neuman, 9/2).