More than 27 million pounds of meat and poultry were recalled in 2010 by processors regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Meat and poultry recalls often involve bacterial contamination, but this year more than 21 million pounds of beef, pork, and poultry were recalled for a long list of infractions including ineligible imports, foreign materials, undeclared allergens, animal drug abuse and more.

A half dozen Salmonella-based recalls were responsible for more than half of the 5.947 million pounds of meat and poultry recalled for bacterial contamination.  Salmonella accounted for the recalls on 3.229 million pounds.

In late January and early February, Rhode Island-based Daniele International Inc., in three separate announcements, recalled a total of 1.395 million pounds of its ready-to-eat Italian sausage products for Salmonella contamination that ultimately was linked to the company’s wholesale pepper suppliers.

Another big Salmonella recall involving meat and poultry products occurred in March.   Windsor Foods recalled 1.7 million pounds of ready-to-eat beef and chicken products that contained Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), an ingredient that was recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination.

A third Salmonella recall, one not included in the weight totals, occurred on June after 29 people in 14 states were infected.   That outbreak led to ConAgra Foods of Council Bluffs, IA recalling all 13-ounce packages of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice.

As Food Safety News reported yesterday, there were 11 meat and poultry recalls during 2010 for E. coli contamination.  A total of 2.339 million pounds were E. coli-based recalls.  That was double the amount recalled in 2009, but still low when compared with many previous years.

Fear of Listeria contamination was responsible for seven, mostly small FSIS recalls.  The exception was Buffalo-based Zemco Industries’ late August recall of 380,000 pounds of deli meat products for Listeria contamination.

With only a few days of 2010 remaining, FSIS-regulated companies have been involved in 66 recalls.  Twenty-four involved Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria.  

Some of the other 42 recalls were noteworthy.  

Early in the year, Huntington Meat Packing Inc. of California recalled 864,000 pounds of beef for E. coli contamination.   Within a couple of weeks, the company had to expand the recall by 4.9 million pounds of beef and veal, but that recall was for processing the meat outside the company’s safety plan.

At the same time, USDA announced that Huntington Meat was the target of a criminal investigation by both FSIS and the Inspector General. 

“Under-processing” was the reason for another attention-getting recall.  Campbell Soup, based in Paris, TX, recalled 15,000,000 pounds of SpaghettiOs.   FSIS, following an inspections of Campbell’s warehouse, said the Os were not properly processed.

There were no illnesses associated with the SpaghettiOs recall, although it was responsible for more than half of all the meat and poultry products recalled during 2010,

Concern by the U.S. about the use of the animal drug, Ivermectin, in Brazil led to some FSIS recalls.  That was why Chicago-based Sampco Inc. twice recalled 148,000 pounds of its cooked canned and frozen beef products in June.   Brazil had earlier suspended its exports of cooked products.

Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic and is used as a de-worming agent in live animals.  FSIS routine, point of entry testing discovered samples of cooked beef product from Brazil, produced on Jan. 20, 2010, that exceeded the tolerance level established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration in beef muscle.