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FSIS: Canadian Beef Recalled for E. coli Was Used for U.S. Raw Ground Beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food  Safety and Inspection Service is alerting the public that whole muscle cuts related to a large, ongoing Canadian E. coli O157:H7 beef recall were used to produce raw ground beef products.

The agency said it made the discovery while conducting standard recall effectiveness checks of all U.S. establishments that received the recalled beef from XL Foods, Inc. (also known as Canadian Establishment 38).

“FSIS has reason to believe, based on information provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that beef from cattle slaughtered during the period associated with the recall was produced under insanitary conditions that resulted in a high event period (a period when the trim from carcasses exhibited an unusually high frequency of positive findings for the possible presence of E. coli O157:H7),” said the agency, in a release sent out early Wednesday morning. “Therefore, all products that are non-intact, such as trim and ground beef subject to the recall, as well as all cuts of beef that will be processed into non-intact product, are considered adulterated.”

FSIS has still not posted a recall on its website, but has instead chosen to use public health alerts to warn the public, a decision that has frustrated some consumer advocates.

Here’s the basic timeline of the recall, according to FSIS:

“FSIS testing of raw boneless beef trim product from Canadian Establishment 038, XL Foods, Inc., confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7 on September 3, 2012. After alerting the CFIA of the positive results, the agencies launched an investigation including additional testing, and CFIA announced a recall by XL Foods, Inc. of a variety of ground beef products on Sept. 16. FSIS also issued a Public Health Alert (PHA) on September 20, 2012, provided updated information on September 21, 2012, conducted effectiveness checks this week, and notified the public once more through today’s PHA.  The CFIA has expanded the scope of the recall to now include the production dates of Aug. 24, Aug. 27, Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2012 and FSIS has determined that a slaughter date of August 23, 2012 is common to all four production dates.”

And an explanation of why there has been no recall:

“FSIS issues Public Health Alerts to make the public aware of a public health hazard. FSIS is not announcing a recall at this time because the goal of such an action is to have the establishment most directly associated with producing adulterated product remove the product from commerce.   In this case, the establishment was XL Foods, Inc., a Canadian firm, and that recall has been initiated in Canada.  CFIA is overseeing the effectiveness of the recall in Canada and FSIS is overseeing the effectiveness in the United States. FSIS continues to verify U.S. establishments’ use of primal and non-primal cuts associated with the XL Foods recall and will take appropriate action if prohibited activity is found.”

Retail locations:

“While the investigation continues, FSIS will provide information as it becomes available. The products subject to the Canadian recall were distributed to U.S. establishments in the following states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.”  FSIS will continue to update the retail distribution list posted on FSIS’ website here.

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, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.”

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