From the New York Times:
Two years ago, after an 8-year-old girl in Albany County, N.Y., was sickened by Topps ground beef, the Agriculture Department scrutinized the Elizabeth plant and found relatively few problems. But since then, the department said, Topps cut its microbial testing on finished ground beef from once a month to three times a year, a level the department considers inadequate.
Federal investigators said they had recently learned that the company failed to require adequate testing on the raw beef it bought from its domestic suppliers, and it sometimes mixed tested and untested meat in its grinding machines.
The Agriculture Department acknowledged that its safety inspectors, who were in the Topps plant for an hour or two each day, never cited the company for these problems.
Now I’m no legal expert in any sense of the term, but it seems to me that if the USDA knew about the indiscretions of the Topps company, and then did nothing, then the USDA is partially culpable for the outbreak.
AGGGH!! This is what is so frustrating about our food regulations! The USDA and FDA know that it’s better to have these regulations on the book. There’s no scenario in which it’s a good idea to not check for E.Coli on a monthly basis, especially when you deal with high volume meat products.
And yet for reasons that are not adequately explained, it was the friggin’ government inspectors who didn’t say anything when Topps decided to go off the ranch? What the hell????
Toothless. Benign. Impotent. All of these adjectives describe the USDA and FDA.
From later in the article:
“When someone says we are a toothless tiger and we are not doing anything, this is an example of something we are doing that I believe is making the food supply safer,” Dr. Raymond said.
Dr. Raymond, when you order detailed and aggressive inspections after an outbreak, then you’ve already failed in your job. There’s simply no other way to spin this.