It seems you can’t open a paper, turn on the radio, or visit a Web site (like this one) without learning more about our seemingly precarious food supply. Here’s a rundown of the latest news, as well as the latest government and business actions when it comes to meat and food supply safety.
- Three more cases of E.coli traced to Nebraska Beef have been reported, including one in Kentucky.
- Ohio’s Department of Agriculture has decided to take safety recalls into its own hands. If, through its own testing the ODA finds meat or other foods unsafe, it will give parties involved with that product just a few hours to go public with a recall. Otherwise, the ODA will charge full steam ahead. According to this Columbus Dispatch article, a couple of days passed between the time the E.coli was detected and traced to the source and the time a recall was publicly announced.
- The Government Accountability Office (or GAO-a federal watchdog) audited the food safety systems of six countries plus the European Union. It found that most countries have much stricter food inspections systems, much more extensive documentation of food’s journey from farm to table, and the ability to mandate a recall. A Seattle-based lawyer who specializes in litigating food-borne illness cases told me that, in the United States, recalls are voluntary.
- Meat industry representatives are converging on Chicago this September for an E.coli conference. (Hey! Sounds like fun!) Attendees can expect to review the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service guidelines, as well as how best to test meat for trouble.
- The USDA announced that, beginning next month, it will list the names of retail outlets involved in Class I recalls. Those are recalls in which there’s a possibility of severe illness or death after eating the product (the recent E.coli recall was a Class I). Currently, it’s up to retailers like Kroger’s to let consumers know about a recall.