Per the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, on Dec. 20, Tyson Meats, Inc. recalled 41,000 pounds of its ground beef from 16 states, suspecting an E. coliO157:H7 contamination. Last week, Hannaford Stores, a Scarborough, Maine-based grocery chain, recalled an unspecified amount of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with a multidrug resistant strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.
The Tyson products may be packaged under different brand names, per FSIS.Full list here [pdf]. Tyson’s products subject to recall have a “BEST BEFORE OR FREEZE BY” date of “11/13/11″ and “EST. 245C” on the box label. The products were shipped to institutions and distributors in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Hannaford’s various ground beef packages bear sell-by or freeze-by dates of Dec. 17, 2011 or earlier and were sold at Hannaford stores throughout Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
Food safety authorities identified a link between the Hannaford ground beef products and an illness outbreak of 14 people, seven of whom were hospitalized. Ten reported purchasing ground beef at Hannaford stores in Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont between Oct. 12 and Nov. 20.
The outbreak strain of S. Typhimurium has initially tested resistant to multiple commonly prescribed antibiotics, including drug classes such as beta-lactams, aminoglycosides, and cephalosporins.
Based on an examination of Hannaford’s limited records, FSIS was unable to determine responsible suppliers and is now contemplating new rules to address this.
In April 2011, the Centers for Disease Control began investigating an outbreak of S. Typhimurium involving 73 people in 35 states. One person died. The outbreak is possibly linked to those exposed to clinical and teaching microbiology labs. Infected individuals ranged in age from less than 1 year to 91 years-old.
In Summer 2011, Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of turkey, and then another 185,000 pounds six weeks later for Salmonella Heidelberg contamination. S. Heidelberg is resistant to multiple drugs, including ampicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, and gentamycin.
In November, Martha Rosenberg reported that “half of U.S. meat from major grocery chains–turkey, beef, chicken and pork–harbors antibiotic resistant staph germs commonly called MRSA. Turkey had twice and even three times the MRSA of all other meats, in another study.“
E. coli O157:H7 is also multi-drug resistant, most especially in beef. Both E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium infections can be life-threatening to infants, young children, the elderly, and immuno-compromised people.
Antibiotic resistance has developed because the Food and Drug Administration, among other federal agencies, allows the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal feed and supports broad-spectrum bactericides for use in humans. While providing a nice profit margin for the drug industry, the lack of appropriate regulation is deadly for humans and farm animals.
A recent article in the Journal of Food Safety reported that plant extracts can be potent biopreservatives for Salmonella Typhimurium control and quality enhancement in ground beef. Researchers found that mixing pomegranate peel extract or cinnamon bark extract with ground beef “resulted in a sharp reduction in bacterial cell counts during storage period for 7 days.” They concluded:
“In addition to their economical and health promoting benefits, the application of plant extracts, as natural and safe biopreservatives, could be highly recommended for the improvement of microbiological and sensory quality of ground beef.”