JBS expands beef recall after 18 illnesses reported
June 28, 2009
Greeley-based JBS USA voluntarily expanded its meat recall Sunday because of suspected E.coli contamination to include an additional 380,000 pounds of beef, the company announced in a press release.
The move came after 18 illnesses were reportedly linked to the beef that left the company’s Greeley plant in late April, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The original recall, announced last week, was for 41,280 pounds of meat. On Sunday, the company said that after a review of its internal records and after consulting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the recall was being voluntarily expanded.
The possible contamination was investigated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The USDA reported Sunday it worked with the CDC to investigate 24 suspected E.coli illnesses across the country, and 18 of those appear to be linked to the meat that left the company’s Greeley plant on April 21 and 22.
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The location of those 18 illnesses was not announced, but the USDA said the beef was shipped to distributors and retail establishments in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
JBS spokesman Chandler Keys said the beef in question was sold as whole muscle cuts, not ground beef.
“The ground beef that might have been associated with illness was produced by other companies who often do not use the antimicrobial intervention steps we employ in our facility to reduce the risk of the beef products,” Keys said in the press release. “Nevertheless, we have agreed to expand our recall of whole muscle cuts out of an abundance of caution for consumers.”
Keys said JBS will be personally contacting the company’s customers by phone.
“We continue to work closely with the USDA to ensure that product is removed from the marketplace and the recall is completed successfully,” Keys said in the press release.
When it initially announced the recall last week, JBS reported that a conveyor belt broke inside the plant and employees packaged some of the beef instead of holding it until the belt could be repaired. Apparently because of the conveyor belt problem, some beef was not properly packaged because it did not go through a normal intervention process at the plant.
When it was announced last week, industry analysts said the 41,000 pounds of recalled meat would not be a problem for the company.
“It’s nothing,” said Steve Kay, publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly, an industry trade publication. ” … Even if you added another zero to the 41,000 pounds, it wouldn’t mean that much.”
Each box being recalled from JBS bears the establishment number “EST. 969” inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as the identifying package date of “042109” and a time stamp ranging from “0618” to “1130.” However, the beef was sent to establishments and retail stores nationwide for further processing and will likely not bear the establishment number “EST. 969” on products available for direct consumer purchase. The USDA advises customers with concerns to contact their point of purchase.