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Nebraska Beef, Ltd Expands E. Coli Recall

The new total for Omaha-based Nebraska Beef Ltd.’s product recall is 1.36 million lbs., up from the 1.2 million lbs. originally announced Aug. 8. The wording being used on this Class I recall – such as “insufficient precautions” and “insanitary conditions” – can’t be good for the firm’s longterm business prospects.

Recent recalls have put an unbearable financial strain on all but the biggest of players, and all eyes are now focused on what this will mean for their future. A large percentage of this recall has also affected Coleman Natural products, which has enjoyed a long relationship with Whole Foods. Indications are that Whole Foods wasn’t aware that Coleman was processing product with Nebraska Beef.

E. coli O157:H7 remains a top concern for food-borne illness in beef. With mandatory country-of-origin labeling just around the corner (Sept. 30), we’re seeing countries like Canada getting geared up for the opportunity that these outbreaks will create.

It’s simply a matter of statistics; the odds are that the next round of E.coli recalls will be centered on U.S. product. While the industry has made great strides in fighting E. coli O157:H7 contamination of ground beef, summer 2008 points out just how far we are from winning the battle.

It really is the U.S. beef industry’s Achilles heel; a problem with our most popular product that’s seriously tarnishing the U.S. reputation. In fact, an Argentine meat-industry newsletter this week headlined an item on Monday’s 780-lb. recall of ground beef from Renna's Meat Market in Fresno, CA due to possible E.coli O157:H7 contamination, this way: “United States: This Week’s First Beef Recall.”