The U.S. Department of Agriculture waited 18 days after learning that millions of pounds of ground beef made by Topps Meat Co. could be contaminated with E coli bacteria before it concluded that a recall was necessary, an e-mail from an agency inspection official shows.
The Topps hamburger recall, which is now the third largest hamburger recall in USDA history, was first announced Sept. 25. The Elizabeth, N.J., company initially recalled 331,000 pounds of hamburger, but last Saturday expanded the recall to include 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger.
The USDA also announced its recall only as New York state published its own Sept. 25 consumer alert regarding possible E coli contamination in Topps hamburger. Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the New York Department of Health, said that state investigators confirmed the E coli in Topps beef on Sept. 24 during tests in its Wadsworth Center Laboratories.
New York state actually issued its Sept. 25 consumer alert before the Topps recall was announced by the company and USDA, according to Jessica Chittenden, a New York Department of Agriculture and Markets spokewoman.
The meat, as you probably guessed, was sold by Wal-Mart. The Trib also lists Indiana as one of the affected states.
I wonder how much longer the USDA would have waited to tell people there's shit in Topps' meat if the state of New York hadn't found out when they did. I wonder, also, why the USDA isn't compelled to tell the public when they find e. coli in meat, like the New York Dept. of Health. And I wonder most of all if voters really think it's worth risking e. coli to protect lazy, greedy meat companies.
It can't be said enough: this is what deregulation looks like. Have you seen enough yet?