That juicy steak you were planning to grill could be a source of illness. We’re not talking about the eventual cholesterol issues that could accumulate in your arteries over the years, but the food recall that resulted from contaminated boneless beef in March 2017.
Mass production and processing of foods can result in food contamination. Imagine the volume of food that is processed daily to meet our country’s food needs.
Recall of Nearly 74,000 Pounds of Beef!
The beef that was recently recalled came from the H&B Packing Co. meat processing plant in Waco, Texas due to possible E. coli contamination. The potentially contaminated product was produced on March 6 and sent to Texas food manufacturers.
What is E. coli? It’s a bacteria that occurs naturally in animals’ and human’s intestines and can be spread in water or through food. According to WebMD, most strains of E. coli are not dangerous, but those that are can really knock people, especially children or the elderly, for a loop.
Cooking thoroughly and washing hands, utensils, and avoiding cross-contamination with uncooked foods can make a difference. Washing hands after using the toilet is important. Hot soapy water is your best defense. Cooking to the prescribed temperature suggested for the food you’re cooking is also a good strategy.
But Aren’t We Protected by Food Inspections?
The United States does have a governmental organization, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, with 9,600 employees. With 26 billion pounds of beef processed in the U.S. each year, not counting the poultry and eggs the department is also responsible for, each employee in the FSIS would need to inspect 2.7 million pounds of beef yearly, which is an enormous amount of beef and other food products to inspect.
Obviously, FSIS does what it can, but sometimes the prevention aspect comes after the fact when incidents of illness are reported.
Recently, a heath alert was released because prepackaged wrap sandwiches that had been distributed to 10 states in the Midwest and East from Michigan-based JLM Manufacturing were already past the “best by” dates. JLM Manufacturing had prepared sandwiches on January 23 and 25 that were offered at retailers with “Best by” dates of February 12 and 14. What looked like appealing wraps with ham and cheese, Italian, and Tuscan chicken, were carrying listeria, another nasty bacteria that children, pregnant women, and older folks can be particularly susceptible. Listeria has the added concern that it can spread in a refrigerator over 40 degrees Fahrenheit to other food.
What Is Safe to Eat?
A good question, as food safety has been a concern for centuries. Nowadays, we are much more sophisticated about our food choices, but still people get sick from improperly prepared food.
Organic foods come to mind as good choices, since they are grown very restrictively in fields or conditions where contaminants are less likely to be in the foods. However, even the simplest items can cause a problem.
If you’ve ever read the lists published in newspapers about which restaurants were downgraded because of unsafe holding practices, you’d probably never visit any of those restaurants ever again. Raw and cooked foods being stored at unsafe temperatures are often a reason for the downgraded quality rankings.
Cooking to kill bacteria, cleaning the utensils and hands of anyone who works in the kitchen, sealing foods, and placing them in a cold refrigerator are some of the simplest approaches to food safety.
But, even if this whole situation makes a person decide they’ll just buy prepared frozen foods, even those are not above reproach. A food recall in the past included a frozen meal that had evidence of tiny glass shards in the food!
When Your Health Has Been Threatened, What Can You Do?
A natural move might be to sue someone, especially if you or a loved one suffered a serious sickness and injury that is proven through negligence of a restaurant or food processor and manufacturer.
So how can you stay safe? Cooking food to the suggested minimum internal temperatures, washing your food before cooking, and keeping food safely covered and frozen or refrigerated. After all of the preparations exhaust you — you might want to eat out. Now, which restaurant received the highest ratings for cleanliness?