USDA Allows Recalled Meat in Processed Food
- USDA CONDONES USE OF RECALLED MEAT IN PROCESSED FOOD
> Knight-Ridder Tribune, August 2, 2002David Migoya, The Denver Post
At least 68,000 pounds of E. coli-tainted beef linked to an 18.6
million-pound recall by ConAgra Beef Co. may, according to this story, turn
up on dinner tables as ready-to-eat canned chili, meat spaghetti sauce, beef
ravioli or some other meal. Or, it might end up as pet food. Or fertilizer.
And no one has to tell you it's there.
A spokesman for the Greeley-based beef company was cited as saying Thursday
that meat returned as a result of the nation's second-largest recall in
history will be cooked and turned into food for people or pets, or nonfood
products. Or both. That consumers might buy a meal containing recalled meat
is legal -- and wholesome -- according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The federal agency must OK the company's plans for recalled meat. Cooking
recalled meat is common practice in the food industry.
ConAgra spokesman Jim Herlihy was quoted as saying, "I think we can say any
product that is cooked per the guidelines established by the USDA and
recommended by the Colorado Department of Health is perfectly safe for human
consumption and to indicate otherwise is irresponsible."
Lisa Scannell of Longmont whose 5-year-old son, Alec Scholhamer, was
sickened last month after eating a hamburger made with ConAgra meat, was
quoted as saying, "They're asking me to trust them again, and that's
outrageous. They always blame people for not cooking the meat even though
they're the ones who put the E. coli there. I'm supposed to trust them now to
cook it, too?"
Patti Klocker, assistant director of the Colorado Department of Health and
Environment Consumer Protection Division, was cited as saying that recalled
meat shouldn't end up as human food again, adding that, "By definition of the
federal recall, it's not fit for human consumption. We recommend that humans
don't consume it and that it shouldn't be turned into something edible."
Herlihy said he did not know how much of the meat has already been cooked or
processed. He could not say if it will be sold to outside companies or to
ConAgra-owned businesses, or how much will become nonfood products such as
fertilizer and tallow. "Cooking would render any pathogen harmless," he said.
The USDA agrees.