All News / Outbreaks /

Timing of May 21st Recall At Valley Meats Raises Questions About Its “Test And Hold” Program

Valley Meats LLC, a Coal Valley, Illinois grinding plant recalled approximately 95,898 pounds of ground beef that might have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced in late May.

However, the problem was discovered through an epidemiological investigation of illnesses, NOT before the meat made it between hamburger buns. On May 13, 2009, FSIS was informed by the Ohio Department of Health of a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Illnesses have now been reported in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. About a dozen people were sickened and one young girl in Ohio died.

So, where was Valley Meats “Test and Hold” food safety program? Shouldn’t the objective be to mitigate consumer risks associated with the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and other Shiga-toxin E. coli? Shouldn’t every USDA inspected slaughter facility, grinding operation and grocer utilize a “Test and Hold” program using science-based, robust serial sampling of finished ground beef products? Shouldn’t the testing include PCR/DNA genetic testing to identify a specific DNA strand unique to E. coli O157:H7 so if people do become ill, they can be linked to the source?

True, you cannot “Test and Hold” your way to complete food safety. You cannot test all hamburgers before it hits a consumer’s kitchen. However, we can test more – perhaps in part to validate a plant’s HACCP program – perhaps in part to try and save the life of one young girl.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
E. coli Food Poisoning

What is E. coli and how does it cause food poisoning? Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a highly studied, common species of bacteria that belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae, so...

E. coli O157:H7

E. coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that causes food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 is the most commonly identified and the most notorious Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serotype in...

Non-O157 STEC

Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli can also cause food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 may be the most notorious serotype of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), but there are at least...

Sources of E. coli

Where do E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) come from? The primary reservoirs, or ultimate sources, of E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC in nature are...

Transmission of and Infection with E. coli

While many dairy cattle-associated foodborne disease outbreaks are linked to raw milk and other raw dairy products (e.g., cheeses, butter, ice cream), dairy cattle still represent a source of contamination...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database