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USDA to release names of stores with recalled meat...sometimes

The US Department of Food and Agriculture has just announced that in the future they will be making public the names of stores with recalled meat and poultry.

"The identity of retail stores with recalled meat and poultry from their suppliers has always been a missing piece of information for the public during a recall," said Schafer. "People want to know if they need to be on the lookout for recalled meat and poultry from their local store and by providing lists of retail outlets during recalls, USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service will improve public health protection by better informing consumers."

Sweet!

Well, sort of...

As always, the devil is in the details.

  • The names of the stores will be listed at the FSIS web site "generally within 3 to 10 days of issuing the recall release" (Is a "recall release" in fact a press release about the recall? If so, does that mean, no press release, no listing? Also, 3-10 days after the recall release seems like a long time to copy and paste a list of names to a web site. Especially if lives are at stake.)
  • This will only apply to Class I recalls, which are defined as those with a reasonable probability of serious health consequences or death for those with weakened immune systems. Just as a comparator, the Westland/Hallmark recall from the downer cows was a class II.
  • Only retail outlets will be identified, not distribution centers, institutions or restaurants. To bring up Westland/Hallmark again, there was a LOT of that meat the ended up in school lunches. An awful lot.

In other USDA news

Some beef recalls have expanded. Nebraska and Ohio to be specific.

Nobody knows where the salmonella is coming from. It seems it is probably not tomatoes, news which comes too late for many tomato farmers. It might be jalapenos. Or serranos. Or cilantro. Or some combination.

Plus, the CDC just finished comparing 144 people who got sick in June with 287 people who live near them but didn't fall ill.

That study of the June cases shows the sick are far more likely than the well to have eaten either raw tomatoes, raw jalapeno peppers or fresh cilantro. In one of the largest clusters, those sickened had consumed fresh tomatoes and fresh jalapenos mixed together. In two other large clusters, illnesses were linked only to a dish that contained fresh jalapenos but no tomatoes.

What does that mean?

"We are quite sure that neither tomatoes nor jalapenos explain the entire outbreak at this point. ... We're presuming that both of them have caused illness," Tauxe said. (source)

So, to sum it up. That hamburger may kill you, especially if you put salsa on it. I'd say it's time for a salad, but you'd better buy your veggies at  your local farmer's market. But you do that anyway, right?

ETA: The latest on the salmonella from the FDA.

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