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USDA Push to Close Meat Processor Responsible for Two Salmonella Recalls

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One lawmaker is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to temporarily shut down Beef Packers Inc.  The Cargill unit has recalled Salmonella tainted beef twice this year, and been tied to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Newport.

In a press release, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture,, and called on the USDA to “undertake a comprehensive examination” of the Beef Packers facility in Fresno, California, to “identify and correct any major problems” before it produces more beef.  Rep. DeLauro asserted that Beef Packers “continues to pose a health risk not only to the general population but to our children through the school lunch program.”

Last week, we reported that Beef Packers, a unit of Cargill, had recalled more than 22,000 lbs of potentially Salmonella-tainted ground beef.  According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), ground beef involved in this most recent Beef Packers’ recall may be linked to two cases of Salmonella Newport.

It was only back in August that Beef Packers recalled more than 800,000 lbs of ground beef because of the same pathogen.  The frozen ground beef products involved in the earlier recall were tied to 39 cases of Salmonella Newport in 11 states.

At the time of the first recall, Beef Packers was a major supplier to the National School Lunch Program.  A previous USA Today investigation had revealed that the federal government purchased 450,000 lbs of Beef Packers ground beef made during the dates covered by the August recall, some of which was destined for schools.  However, the recall was issued only at the retail level, and did not include Beef Packers’ products sent to schools.  USDA officials told USA Today that  the meat sent to schools tested negative for Salmonella, but many food safety experts maintain that it still should have been recalled.

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