Two firms are recalling a total of 40,000 pounds of ground beef and burgers because of possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination, the Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.
Contamination is a huge problem in the beef industry, in part because beef "trimmings" the fat and gristle sliced off choice cuts is sourced from various slaughterhouses and combined with better cuts to produce the familiar mixes (80% lean, 90% lean, etc.) consumers encounter in grocery stores; the 20% that isn't lean comes from trimmings from various plants, each prone to contamination as cows are slaughtered, frankly, in close proximity to their own waste. E. coli bacteria is found in beef cattle only because they are fed corn; they evolved to eat grass, and grass-fed cows rarely produce E. coli-tainted beef. (More disgusting facts about ground beef.)
What can you do? While grass-fed beef isn't a cure-all for bacterial contamination, beef fed a natural diet are much less likely to have high E. coli counts in their stomachs. And buying local may not be the answer in all cases, it at least gives consumers the opportunity to ask how cattle were raised and critically how they were slaughtered. Of course, there are always delicious vegetarian recipes to try, too.
Here are the details on the latest recalls:
South Gate Meat Co., of South Gate, Calif., is recalling 35,000 pounds of ground beef produced between June 7 and June 21 identifiable by "EST. 6217" inside the USDA mark of inspection on the following packages shipped to the Los Angeles, Calif area:
For more information, call the company's owner, John Dritsas, or vice president, Angelo Dritsas, at 323-564-1701.
Crown I Enterprises, Inc., of Bay Shore, N.Y., is recalling 3,700 pounds of ground beef and burgers produced between June 11 and June 15 identifiable by the "EST. 20889" inside the USDA mark of inspection as well the Julian dates of "10164" and "10166." They were shipped to food service institutions in Conn., N.J., and N.Y. in the following packages:
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