Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Meat Recall: Update on Topps Meat Investigation – Canada/U.S.

At least once a week some kind of meat product is recalled. Is anyone still eating red meat? 

Oct. 26, 2007 – A joint investigation between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has identified a likely source of the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to the Topps Meat Company.

On October 25, the CFIA provided FSIS with DNA fingerprints, from tests of beef trim from a Canadian firm, Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630. This firm provided trim to the Topps Meat Company. While the firm, which had been located in Balzac, Alberta, ceased operations on August 15, 2007, some product remained in storage and was collected and tested by CFIA as part of the joint investigation of the Topps recall and as part of CFIA’s own investigation into 45 illnesses in Canada from E. coli O157:H7.

This piece of DNA information helped determine a likely source of contaminated product which led to the September 29 Topps Meat Company expanded recall.

Today, PulseNet provided verification to FSIS that this pattern matched those from patients who were ill and from positive tests conducted by the New York Department of Health on product (both intact packages and open packages from patients’ homes) that was later recalled by the Topps Meat Company on September 29. PulseNet is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) searchable database of all patterns from patients and food products in the United States.

As of October 26, CDC reported 40 illnesses under investigation in eight states, with 21 known hospitalizations. The latest onset of illness was September 24.

As the result of the Topps Meat Company recall investigation, FSIS had delisted Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630, on October 20, 2007. No product from that firm has been eligible to come into the U.S. since that date.

Today, FSIS notified industry to hold all boneless beef manufacturing trim from Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630, or raw products produced in whole or in part from these products until the joint investigation is completed.

The affected products being should be returned to the point of purchase.

Consumers preparing other ground beef products should always follow the four Be Food Safe steps of 1-clean, 2-separate, 3-cook and 4-chill. Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 °F. The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate food thermometer.

Read the whole story here.

  1. November 24
    NEWARK, N.J. – The Topps Meat Co., which issued the nation’s second-largest beef recall ever, has filed papers to liquidate the company.
    Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps was one of the largest makers of frozen hamburgers before potentially fatal bacteria were found in its patties, compelling it to halt production and issue the recall on Sept. 29.
    Six days later, Topps said it was closing its business, after it was forced to issue the recall of 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger.

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