September 18, 2020

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Questions Traceback Timeline of Cargill E. coli Ground Beef Recall

Congresswoman Rosa Delauro (D-CT) is questioning the traceback timeline of the Cargill Meat Solutions E. coli O26 contaminated ground beef that was linked to a deadly food poisoning outbreak. She wrote to USDA Secretary Perdue, “I write today out of concern regarding the USDA’s investigation into the ongoing multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli O26, which has been linked to ground beef. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Agency was notified of an investigation of E. coli O26 illnesses on August 16, 2018. However, it was not until August 30, 2018 that the first recall related to this outbreak was initiated by Publix Super Markets Inc.”

Cargill E. coli O26 Ground Beef Outbreak

When the Publix recall was announced, the USDA said they had not determined the source of the outbreak. Twenty days later, on September 19, 2018, 132,606 pounds of Cargill ground beef was recalled. That means it took more than 35 days from when the government first learned of the outbreak to when they identified the food responsible. DeLauro added, “Such a timeline is simply unacceptable and unnecessarily jeopardizes public health.”

The Congresswoman would like the answers to these questions: What is USDA’s opinion on the duration of the traceback investigation? After the outbreak was discovered, when did USDA learn that Publix ground beef and Cargill ground beef were involved? She also wants to know what specific traceback information the USDA requested and received from all involved parties.

Illness onset dates for this outbreak ranged from July 5 to July 28, 2018. That means that the outbreak ended before a recall was ever announced.

Meanwhile, the retail distribution list for the stores that may have sold the recalled Cargill ground beef keeps growing. Yesterday, the list was 13 pages long; today three more pages were added.

In addition to the stores we listed yesterday, these stores may have carried the recalled ground beef: in Nebraska, Safeway stores in Chadron, Ogallala, Scottsbluff, and Sidney may have sold the recalled ground beef. In New Mexico, Safeway stores in Aztec and Farmington may have carried that recalled product. In South Dakota, the Safeway stores in Rapid City and Spearfish are part of the recall. Finally, Safeway stores in Cheyenne, Douglas, Laramie, and Wheatland may have carried the recalled product.

Officials are concerned that this ground beef may be frozen in consumers’ freezers. The ground beef products have the establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

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