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Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker Calls on Food Retailers to Keep Precise Beef Handling Records
Date:3/1/2010

href="http://www.pritzkerlaw.com/listeria/" onclick="linkClick( this.href );" target="_blank" title="Listeria">Listeria,Campylobacter and other pathogens. He believes it is possible to build a food safety system in which foodborne illness outbreaks are rare and short in duration.

The current safety gap caused by improper ground beef record keeping at the retail level is acknowledged by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is currently trying to address the problem in a series of public meetings. The agency has been frustrated by the lack of records kept by retailers who grind their own ground beef. It's essential for them to document where the bulk trimmings and cuts come from in the event a package of ground beef purchased by a consumer is later found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

"If investigators can quickly identify by traceback what products are making people sick, they can also trace contaminated products forward through the distribution system and issue appropriate recalls and warnings,'' Pritzker said.

Orderly documentation of what beef is used in a retail chain's grindings also will put more pressure on suppliers to eliminate contamination. A major benefit of tracing is to allow the USDA to assess the establishment that produced the contaminated product to detect if there's a systemic problem at the plant.

The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year from foodborne illnesses and millions become ill and don't even realize that it is connected to tainted food. Estimates of E. coli infection are imprecise, but microbiologists guess that more than 70,000 Americans fall ill every year from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, the largest source of which is contaminated ground beef. Of those infected, more than 5 percent develop
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Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker Calls on Food Retailers to Keep Precise Beef Handling Records
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