Class I Recalls Issued for Various Beef and Poultry Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced three Class I recalls involving poultry, meat, and beef franks products. Class I recalls are considered a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Poultry

Tyson Foods, Inc. of Missouri recalled approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products produced in early October 2013 that may be contaminated with a salmonella Heidelberg strain. The poultry products were shipped nationwide for institutional use only and not sold to consumers in retail stores. After seven people were sickened by a salmonella outbreak at a Tennessee prison, the FSIS was notified of these illnesses on December 12, 2013. Working in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), the FSIS observed a link between the mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods and the illness cluster in the Tennessee prison. Based on epidemiological and traceback investigations it was confirmed that the seven patients at the facility had foodborne illnesses, with two requiring hospitalization.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness.

Meat

Rancho Feeding Corporation in California is recalling approximately 41,683 pounds of various meat products because they were produced without the benefit of full federal inspection, making them unfit for human food. The products were sold in 30 to 60 pound boxes labeled as “beef carcasses,” “beef feet,” “beef oxtail,” and other beef body parts. The problem was discovered as a result of an ongoing investigation and is believed to be the result of the company producing product without full ante-mortem inspection as per federal regulations. Although a Class I recall, the FSIS indicated that no reports of illness due to consumption of these products had been received.

Beef franks

Cloverdale Foods Co., based in North Dakota, also recalled approximately 2,664 pounds of beef franks due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen in a Class I alert. The products were formulated with milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label. The problem was discovered by the company during an internal label review. Non-fat dry milk is an ingredient used in the product, and the problem occurred when the newly designed label included an incorrect ingredient statement. The products were sold to retail establishments in Montana, North Dakota and Washington state under branded packages of “Seattle Mariners Beef Franks” in 16-oz. and 12 lb. packages.

Although not all involved salmonella outbreaks, the recalls follow the aggressive Salmonella Action Plan announced in December 2013. The agency plans to address foodborne illnesses and align food safety inspection with existing and emerging risks. The FSIS noted that by focusing inspectors’ duties solely on food safety, at least 5,000 illnesses per year could be prevented. The plan included steps and processes to modernize the outdated slaughter inspection system, Especially inspection systems related to poultry. In addition, the plan outlines several actions FSIS will take to lower salmonella contamination rates, including establishing new performance standards; developing new strategies for inspection and throughout the full farm-to-table continuum; addressing all potential sources of salmonella; and focusing the agency’s education and outreach tools on salmonella.