New Jersey Firm Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Possible E. coli Contamination
Topps Meat Co. LLC, an Elizabeth, N.J., establishment, is voluntarily expanding its Sept. 25 recall to include a total of approximately 21.7 million pounds (lb.) of frozen ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Saturday.
The recall is being expanded based on an additional positive product sample reported by the New York Health Department, reported illnesses and findings from a food safety assessment conducted by FSIS at the establishment.
There are currently 25 illnesses under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. An investigation carried out by the New York Department of Health in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preceded the recall of Sept. 25.
Frozen products still in commerce with an unexpired sell-by date are subject to this recall expansion. The company applies a one-year sell-by date to their frozen products. For best quality, FSIS recommends consumers use any frozen ground beef products within three to four months of the stated sell-by date. It is important that consumers look for the recalled products and return them if found in their freezers.
The frozen ground beef products were produced on various dates between Sept. 25, 2006, and Sept. 25, 2007, and were distributed to foodservice institutions in the New York metropolitan area and to retail establishments nationwide.
Each package bears the establishment number “Est. 9748” inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as a sell-by date between “SEP 25 07” and “SEP 25 08.”
Visit www.fsis.usda.gov for a list of products subject to the original and expanded recall.
Avian Influenza Surfaces in Canada
The Canadian Food Inspection Service Agency (CFIA) confirmed Sept. 27 that test results from samples collected at a commercial broiler breeder farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, were positive for a North American strain of an H7N3 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus.
According to a statement released by John Clifford of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the virus detected in Canada is not the HPAI H5N1 virus that has spread through birds in Asia, Europe and Africa.
“In accordance with an agreement between the United States and Canada, USDA is barring imports of all live birds, including chickens, turkeys and others, along with unprocessed avian products from the entire province of Saskatchewan. The United States has not imported poultry products from Saskatchewan since 2005.”
According to Clifford, the CFIA was to begin depopulation of the infected flock and initiate thorough surveillance in the surrounding area. “Canadian officials have assured us they will continue to provide us with detailed information on the epidemiological investigation and surveillance reports,” Clifford said.
APHIS will continue to monitor the situation closely as USDA conducts its surveillance for all strains of avian influenza, in cooperation with states, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and industry, Clifford added.
ERS Releases Argentina, Uruguay Beef Production Overview
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released an overview detailing beef production in Argentina and Uruguay. According to ERS, both are significant beef exporters and among the world’s greatest consumers of beef on a per-capita basis. Between 13% and 20% of U.S. beef imports, on a tonnage basis, come from these two countries annually, and it is mostly grass-fed beef.
Visit www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/LDP/2007/09sep/LDPM15901/ to access the ERS report.
Livestock Risk Management Workshop Scheduled
The Texas Cooperative Extension will host a livestock risk management workshop at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Vernon Oct. 22.
The workshop is designed to help producers improve their risk management skills. Speakers will provide an overview of risk management tools approved by the Risk Management Agency, available through local crop insurance agents.
The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop is free, but those who plan to attend are encouraged to call ahead to reserve a space.
Reservations can also be made online at http://agrisk.tamu.edu.
Conner Adjusts CRP
Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner announced Friday that the USDA will not be offering penalty-free early releases from Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts at this time.
In addition to more than 2 million CRP acres set to expire under existing contracts Sept. 30, Conner sited record-high corn production and a higher-than-expected grain stocks report for corn and soybeans at the beginning of the 2007-2008 crop year.
“Wheat, soybean, and corn markets are providing very strong incentives to plant more acreage this fall and next spring,” Conner said. “Throughout this year, the market focused on attracting corn acres, and to a lesser extent, wheat acres. Producers responded strongly, with corn acres increasing to their highest level since 1944. Wheat market prices are indicating an expected significant increase in planted area this fall and next spring in the U.S. and around the world. The potential exists for increased double-cropping and the planting of fallow ground. Overall, I expect that market signals will continue to provide adequate acres, recognizing that strong competition among crops is likely.”
Conner said he would not anticipate offering a general signup while grain stock levels remain historically low and prices continue at unprecedented levels. He plans to closely monitor the acreage response and market conditions, and “will not hesitate in the future to make adjustments to USDA programs if needed to achieve balance in the agricultural sector.”
compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.
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