Another day, another E. coli recall from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. This time the recall is for 1.2 million pounds of "primal cuts, subprimal cuts and boxed beef" packed by Nebraska Beef in Omaha, Nebraska, bringing Nebraska's bad beef total to a whopping 6.5 million pounds. Primal cuts are large sections of beef like the chuck (shoulder) and round (rump), while subprimal cuts are smaller divisions, like the blade and the arm section of the chuck that supermarkets often finish processing themselves. "Boxed beef" refers to shrink-wrapped, case-ready cuts and ground beef of the kind you're used to seeing at the supermarket.
"So what?" I can just hear you yawning. "I don't buy no stinking feedlot beef."
Well the beef in question this time is from Coleman Natural Beef, which supplies "natural" and organic beef to Whole Foods, among other retailers. (Although in most cases the "natural" label only means minimally processed, Coleman says that its beef is hormone- and antibiotic-free and raised in the open air in a vegetarian diet.)
Awake now? Heading to the fridge perhaps?
According to the Boston Globe, seven E. coli cases from last month have been linked to ground beef sold at Whole Foods AFTER the first, preliminary July 3 recall from Nebraska Beef, which did not identify any of the beef as being sold under the Coleman brand. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised consumers not to eat any fresh ground-beef products purchased from a Whole Foods store from June 2 to Aug. 6. A quick Google reveals that Whole Foods in other states (like this one in Santa Monica, CA) also carry the beef. Altogether, the FSIS website reports, 31 cases in 12 states and Canada have been identified as linked to the investigation.
Supposedly, as Elanor reported here, the USDA was going to start reporting the names of retail establishments involved in Class I recalls like this one as of August. So where is the list? In that announcement, the USDA did give itself a 3- to 10-business-day window after a recall to post the names. Because apparently, there's no rush or anything. (I mean, business days?)
Coleman Natural Foods was in the process of selling off Coleman Natural Beef to Meyer Natural Angus as of April (PDF) to focus on its other businesses, including natural poultry (it owns the Rocky and Rosie brands of chicken also sold at Whole Foods), pork, and prepared foods. As far as I can tell the deal has not yet closed. Wonder if this will put a damper on things.
Note that we have updated the Hamburger Threat Level.