Kroger/Nebraska Beef Recall Expanded Ten-fold

First, it was just a half a million pounds of suspect ground beef. Now it’s nearly 5.5 million pounds–with sell-by dates through July 5–that could be contaminated with E.coli. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that the producer, Nebraska Beef, is recalling all ground beef produced between mid-May and the end of June. According to the FSIS:

“FSIS has concluded that the production practices employed by Nebraska Beef, Ltd. are insufficient to effectively control E. coli…in their beef products that are intended for grinding. The products subject to recall may have been produced under unsanitary conditions.”

To complicate matters, some of the company’s tainted beef was “further processed into ground beef” at other firms, so identifying the source could be tough for customers. But it seems the recall is contained to Kroger stores in many states. And the grocer is encouraging customers to bring in potentially unsafe ground beef for a full refund.

Nebraska Beef is no stranger to E.coli outbreaks, or tangles with the legal and regulatory systems. I interviewed a Seattle-based lawyer who specializes in litigating personal injury from food-borne illness cases for a news story about this. He’s currently got two suits pending against the meat plant.

Salmonella in tomatoes, spinach, E.coli in meat, and what else? These outbreaks raise questions about the safety of our food supply, especially what comes from big industrial farms and factories that are profit-driven. Countless examples of this abound; when it comes to E.coli, the way to prevent contamination is to slow down the slaughter line and thoroughly clean carcasses.

(E.coli is a potentially deadly bacteria that causes flu-like symptoms, including (brace yourself) bloody diarrhea and even kidney failure. So far, 21 cases have cropped up in Michigan, and 19 in Ohio. The recall includes Kentucky, but so far no cases have been reported here. )