JSM Meat Recalls Beef Distributed in 11 StatesMay 18, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
JSM Meat Holdings Company of Chicago is recalling beef products distributed in 11 states due to possible E. coli contamination, federal officials announced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Friday that no illnesses have been reported from the meat; however, it was uncertain as to how much meat is involved in the recall.
The recalled meat is used in ground beef products and involves 30-pound and 60-pound boxes and 47-gallon barrels of "MORREALE MEAT" beef products. The products have the number "EST. 6872" inside the USDA inspection seal and have 15 different labels including, "Boneless Chucks," "Boneless Clods," "Flat Rounds," "Gooseneck Rounds," and "Knuckle."
The states affected are Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Escherichia coli is a relatively common bacteria found in the human digestive tract and is normally harmless; however, some strains, including those linked to food poisoning, are serious and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, and deadly septicemia. In the United States, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness. About 73,000 people are infected and 61 people die from E. coli each year. And, last year alone, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks.
In the last two years, a variety of food pathogens have killed several people, sickened more than 1,300 others, and touched nearly every state in the country as well as Canada. The problem is difficult to police because the food-surveillance system is outdated, under-funded, and overwhelmed by the emergence of mega-farms, -distribution centers, and -transporters. Scientists have expressed concern that infections from antibiotic resistant E. coli bacteria are spreading into the greater population and several countries also now report cases of antibiotic-resistant E. coli. Other researchers compare the E. coli threat to the worldwide problem of community-acquired MRSA—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—an antibiotic-resistant staph developing resistance to the last drug of choice. And, now, emerging data confirms the negative health effects of E. coli can remain for months and years; can have long-term, lasting effects; and can appear months or years after the original illness.
Meanwhile, last week, the Palama Meat Company voluntarily recalled some ground beef products processed at its Kapolei plant in Hawaii that were processed between April 9-21 due to possible E. coli contamination. Approximately 4,500 cases of ground beef-related products were affected and Palama Meat recovered about 40% of the product affected by this recall.
Also last week, two women who were hospitalized for several weeks due to E. coli infections that were linked to tainted lettuce in a Wendy’s meal, filed suit against the popular fast food chain. Dozens of people attending an education conference in June 2006 fell ill after eating food from Wendy's. The women say they ate the contaminated food at a Wendy's restaurant in North Ogden, Utah and the lawsuits were filed this week against Wendy's International in Salt Lake City federal court. The lawsuits seek an unspecified amount of money.