I was reading the Meat Import Council of America (MICA) Newsletter, which is compiled by my friend Laurie Bryant. He grabs a dozen or so stories everyday that should be interesting to the group’s membership. He puts them in no particular order, just calls ‘em as he sees 'em.
And he put this unfortunate pair of stories back-to-back:
- E. coli Outbreak Sickens 10 in Germantown, Ohio
Food Safety News
by News Desk | Jul 09, 2012
WHIO TV has reported that at least 55 people have fallen ill with E. coli infections after eating at a picnic in Germantown, Ohio, according to the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department. Approximately 10 people have been hospitalized, a health department spokesman said.
The exact source of the bacteria is unknown, and information on the strain has not been published. Further inquiries to the health department have not been returned as of press time.
Those ill attended a company picnic featuring 200 to 300 people. More attendees could have fallen ill who have not yet sought medical attention or been counted, the health department said.
- USDA Budget Cut Could Slash 80 Percent of Produce Testing
The nation's largest pathogen testing program may shut down this month
Food Safety News
by Helena Bottemiller | Jul 10, 2012
Public testing for pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria on fresh produce will drop by more than 80 percent if a key U.S. Department of Agriculture testing program is eliminated, according to an analysis by Food Safety News.
The USDA's Microbiological Data Program was zeroed out in the Obama administration's 2013 budget request and Congress is not seeking funding for the $4.5 million program next year. It is rumored that MDP is set to close down at the end of this month, but the Agricultural Marketing Service, where MDP is housed, would not confirm the program's status.
Now we’re (almost) all big boys and girls in the beef business and we know the damage an E. coli outbreak can do. It’s been spelled out all too often: Illness, death, lost consumer confidence. Saving a few nickels up front can quickly cost millions, maybe billions. Those few bucks saved by improper testing or no testing at all are deposited in the First Foolstown National Bank.
But there might be a few who still see a nearby branch of FFNB across the street and lust after its convenience. According to some reports, the budget cut was not driven by the meat industry. It was those produce people who pushed hard for it.