Cargill, which recalled almost 30,000 pounds of ground beef in the US this weekend, has been linked to five cases of salmonella.
According to the US department of agriculture, the Food Safety Inspection Service launched an investigation following a multi-state outbreak of salmonella enteritidis, involving 33 patients from seven states.
Five of these cases have been directly linked to ground beef produced by Cargill and repacked under retailers own-label products.
Last year, Cargill suspended ground turkey production at a US turkey plant in August and September after an investigation linked the site to an outbreak of salmonella heidelberg, affecting dozens of people across 31 states. Of those, one person was reported dead.
More broadly, this fresh outbreak of salmonella in the US again draws unwanted attention to food safety issues in the country.
The outbreak now appears to be largely under control. However, in some ways the recall seems to be closing the stable door after the horse has already bolted: the products included in the recall were already out of date and therefore no longer on shelves. This delay once again raises the issue of whether FSIS’s detection and prevention powers are enough to ensure safety down the US supply chain.
In addition, the protein industry will hardly be thrilled by fresh negative press in the midst of the grilling season, having just got over the “pink slime” fiasco.