October 3, 2007
More on the Recall Process
According to a Chicago Tribune report, the USDA knew of the Topps meat contamination for 18 days before the recall was announced. I am still learning about the recall process, and this raises some interesting questions to think about. The FDA and the USDA do not order recalls; recalls are voluntary on the part of the producer. The government can warn the public about consuming dangerous products, and it has authority to seize products and remove them from commerce. Many view the voluntary recall system as promoting cooperation between the food industry and the government.
Questions to think about: what kind of proof is required before USDA issues a warning? What is the role of government agencies in initiation of a recall? Is it sort of a joint decision between company and agency? Does the agency suggest the company should recall its product? Or is it truly voluntary and an initiative of the producer?
Anyway, here's the article: USDA Waits 18 days to request recall of tainted meat, by Stephen J. Hedges
WASHINGTON - 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 timing of the Topps recall, and its rapid expansion, are bound to raise more questions about the nation's food safety system. So far, 28 people in eight states—most in the Northeast—have fallen ill from eating the hamburger, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
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