Blog: Dean BestHow will US consumers react to E. coli scares?

Dean Best | 8 October 2007

Questions are being raised about the safety of the meat supply in the US – and quite rightly so – after two big E. coli scares in a matter of days.

Over the weekend, Cargill announced that it was recalling over 800,000 lbs of frozen ground beef patties. The recall came after health officials in the state of Minnesota found a preliminary link between four cases of E. coli and Cargill products bought at local Sam's Club stores.

Cargill’s admission came a day after Topps Meat Co., the second-largest supplier of hamburgers in the US, said it was being forced out of business after its own E. coli. scandal.

That a product recall should bring a company the size of Topps to its knees provoked raised eyebrows. But, the surprise no doubt turned to bewilderment with the admission from the US Department of Agriculture that it could have done more in ordering a faster recall from Topps.

That admission, coupled with Cargill’s announcement, will raise fresh questions about the safety of meat in the US. Just what is behind the rising number of cases of E. coli? And what impact will they have on consumer confidence?


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