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4.9 Million Pounds of Meat Added to E. coli Recall

In another weekend recall announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported yesterday that Southern California-based Huntington Meat Packing Inc. has dramatically expanded its January 18th recall over E. coli O157:H7 concerns.

The Class I recall now includes approximately 4.9 million pounds of additional beef and veal products, sold under three different brand names: Huntington, Imperial Meat Co. and El Rancho brands. The original recall, announced by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) about a month ago, included 864,000 pounds of meat.

According to public health officials, the recall has been expanded based on evidence collected in an ongoing criminal investigation involving the packing plant.

“Evidence shows that the products subject to this recall expansion were produced in a manner that did not follow the establishment’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan,” said the USDA in a statement yesterday. “The investigation has uncovered evidence to show that the food safety records of the establishment cannot be relied upon to document compliance with the requirements. Therefore, FSIS must consider the products to be adulterated and has acted to remove the products from commerce.”

The recalled meat was sold in 10, 20 and 50 pound boxed to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels in California between January 4th and January 22nd. The products all bear the establishment number “EST. 17967” within the USDA inspection label.

Huntington initially initiated the recall after FSIS personnel found a problem at the plant during a Food Safety Assessment (FSA). “The FSA led to the determination that a further investigation of establishment records was warranted,” said the agency in January.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

According to FSIS, there have been no reports of illnesses connected to the recalled product.

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime advocate for more stringent food regulation, said yesterday that the expanded recall illustrates the need for tougher enforcement.

“This recall dispels the notion that the meat industry can police itself to ensure the safety of meat products,” said DeLauro. “This is a company that failed to follow the food safety plan that it developed and may have knowingly produced meat products under unsanitary conditions.  Those products were then sold for consumption over a period of 347 days.  This is unacceptable and we should not allow companies to operate under this kind of regulatory regime.”

© Food Safety News
  • Bluestone, PhD

    As mentioned on numerous comments. HACCP needs to be scrapped. Inspectors have told USDA to scrap it. But just like the congress and senate, nobody listens. YOU DO NOT EAT PAPERWORK. LET THE INSPECTORS INSPECT MEAT AND STOP AUDITING PAPERWORK.

  • jmunsell

    I’d like to have access to all the detailed evidence now available to USDA/FSIS at Huntington Meat Packing. Since OIG is involved, might this indicate that Huntington deliberately changed adverse lab test results, or shipped knowingly-contaminated meat into commerce, or prevented the agency from having access to damaging lab test results? Perhaps. However, communications are now circulating between agency inspection personnel who question the agency’s reasons for targetting Huntington Meat Packing for these ongoing investigations.
    It is possible that USDA is focusing on Huntington’s possible unintended oversight of relatively innocuous and meaningless paper chase inadequacies, most of which have nothing to do with food safety? If this is the case, we should not be the least surprised. USDA’s implementation of the HACCP Hoax has allowed the agency to deregulate the largest packers, while hyper-regulating the small plants out of existence: not for producing adulterated meat, but for alleged failures in its plethora of daily written records, many of which are totally disconnected from a plant’s ability to produce safe food. While HACCP was originally described as a Pathogen Chase, HACCP has deteriorated into a Paper Chase.
    Perhaps the public will have access to investigative records emanating from Huntington Meat Company. Only then will we realize what poses the greater danger: meat plants, or USDA.
    Nevertheless, DeLauro is precisely correct when stating that the meat industry should not police itself. Does IRS allow taxpayers to police themselves, and pay taxes which the taxpayers deem to be appropriate? Likewise, human beings cannot be trusted to police themselves, when the profit motive exists.
    Until the HACCP Hoax is disbanded, or experiences meaningful mid-course changes, these ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls are guaranteed to persist. As long as the current FSIS management team runs the show in DC, the big packers will frolick in the current laissez faire method of non-inspection, while America’s countryside of small plants will continue to contract.
    Again, the primary foe of public health is not pathogens! Instead, it is USDA’s failed experimentation for deregulated HACCP.
    John Munsell

  • John Munsell

    I’d like to have access to all the detailed evidence now available to USDA/FSIS at Huntington Meat Packing. Since OIG is involved, might this indicate that Huntington deliberately changed adverse lab test results, or shipped knowingly-contaminated meat into commerce, or prevented the agency from having access to damaging lab test results? Perhaps. However, communications are now circulating between agency inspection personnel who question the agency’s reasons for targetting Huntington Meat Packing for these ongoing investigations.
    It is possible that USDA is focusing on Huntington’s possible unintended oversight of relatively innocuous and meaningless paper chase inadequacies, most of which have nothing to do with food safety? If this is the case, we should not be the least surprised. USDA’s implementation of the HACCP Hoax has allowed the agency to deregulate the largest packers, while hyper-regulating the small plants out of existence: not for producing adulterated meat, but for alleged failures in its plethora of daily written records, many of which are totally disconnected from a plant’s ability to produce safe food. While HACCP was originally described as a Pathogen Chase, HACCP has deteriorated into a Paper Chase.
    Perhaps the public will have access to investigative records emanating from Huntington Meat Company. Only then will we realize what poses the greater danger: meat plants, or USDA.
    Nevertheless, DeLauro is precisely correct when stating that the meat industry should not police itself. Does IRS allow taxpayers to police themselves, and pay taxes which the taxpayers deem to be appropriate? Likewise, human beings cannot be trusted to police themselves, when the profit motive exists.
    Until the HACCP Hoax is disbanded, or experiences meaningful mid-course changes, these ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls are guaranteed to persist. As long as the current FSIS management team runs the show in DC, the big packers will frolick in the current laissez faire method of non-inspection, while America’s countryside of small plants will continue to contract.
    Again, the primary foe of public health is not pathogens! Instead, it is USDA’s failed experimentation for deregulated HACCP.
    John Munsell