Recalled beef from Chino slaughterhouse was used in 466 food products
10:05 PM PDT on Wednesday, March 19, 2008
By JANET ZIMMERMAN
PDF: Businesses that may have received the meat
PDF: Recalled products
From Slim Jim jerky and Jenny Craig meatloaf to Farmer John salami and Kids Cuisine frozen tacos, the list of products containing recalled meat from the now-closed Chino slaughterhouse continues to grow.
The California Department of Public Health now lists 466 types of foods sold to markets, restaurants, grocery chains, catering businesses, workplace cafeterias and other food services. The state expects the list to get longer, department spokeswoman Lea Brooks said.
"We're identifying more products in which the recalled beef was an ingredient," she said.
When the list debuted in late February, it contained products from three manufacturers. Now there are 16. The recall may not involve entire product lines. The links to affected lot numbers and retail distributors are listed on the California Department of Public Health Web site: www.cdph.ca.gov
Also growing is the list of California restaurants, markets and other retailers that may have received some of the 143 million pounds of beef from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.
The recall, the largest beef recall in U.S. history, was triggered by an undercover video shot by the Humane Society of the United States showing employees at the plant abusing cattle and violating federal slaughter rules.
Still at issue is who will pay for the losses. Industry experts have said the value of the affected foods could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Westland/Hallmark President Steve Mendell testified before a congressional subcommittee last week that his company is broke and won't be able to reimburse distributors or the many schools that received his meat products through the National School Lunch Program.
The recall, which covered meat from cattle slaughtered at the plant between Feb. 1, 2006, and Feb. 2, 2008, is a class II recall, which means the chance of getting sick from the meat is remote.
In Riverside County, one restaurant was found to have some recalled meat. None has been found by public health officials in San Bernardino County, and the chances lessen as time passes, they said. Most has been consumed, destroyed or returned to the manufacturer, said Steve Van Slocum, Riverside County's deputy director of environmental health on Wednesday.
As recently as last week, Ralphs and Food 4 Less, which have 400 stores in Southern California, were removing items from shelves, said Terry O'Neill, the chains' spokesman. The stores don't carry all items on the list, and O'Neill couldn't say which ones were pulled.
"The recall is so vast," he said.
The products are being immediately removed from shelves based on notification from the manufacturer or the grocery chain's parent company, Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., and being destroyed or held for return, he said
O'Neill said all customers will be reimbursed for products that are on the list or that they are worried may be affected.
On Wednesday, three restaurants were removed from the list of retailers in the state -- which grew from 5,000 to 7,900 in the past three weeks. But some distributors turned over names of all their customers, so the state's list included some stores and restaurants that never received recalled meat.
In all, six restaurants have been deleted from the list: P.H. Wood's Brewery in Moreno Valley, the Yellow Basket restaurants in Temecula and Santa Ana, and three others in Orange County.
P.H. Wood's received a small amount of the meat from supplier American Meats in 2002. It was probably a sample, said Scott Diehl, the brewery's general manager and part owner.
A couple of customers notified him that he was on the list, and it took about a week to get the documentation, mostly letters from his suppliers of six years, to prove he wasn't receiving meat from Westland/Hallmark, Diehl said.
"The frustrating thing is having that bad name of being on the list," he said. "It looks like (the distributor) gave a blanket list."
Reach Janet Zimmerman at 951-368-9586 or jzimmerman@PE.com
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS HALLMARK/WESTLAND MEAT PACKING CO.
March 6, 2008
Q. My child/school recently consumed Hallmark/Westland products. What is the
risk to children's health?
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program - Phase II
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Controls Over BSE Sampling, Specified Risk Materials, and Advanced Meat Recovery Products - Phase III
Report No. 50601-10-KC January 2006
Finding 2 Inherent Challenges in Identifying and Testing High-Risk Cattle Still Remain
Our prior report identified a number of inherent problems in identifying and testing high-risk cattle. We reported that the challenges in identifying the universe of high-risk cattle, as well as the need to design procedures to obtain an appropriate representation of samples, was critical to the success of the BSE surveillance program. The surveillance program was designed to target nonambulatory cattle, cattle showing signs of CNS disease (including cattle testing negative for rabies), cattle showing signs not inconsistent with BSE, and dead cattle. Although APHIS designed procedures to ensure FSIS condemned cattle were sampled and made a concerted effort for outreach to obtain targeted samples, industry practices not considered in the design of the surveillance program reduced assurance that targeted animals were tested for BSE.
Inherent Limitations in Identifying and Testing High-Risk Cattle APHIS obtained significantly more samples for testing than they originally anticipated would be needed to achieve its stated level of confidence in estimating the prevalence of BSE in the U.S. herd. Because of the voluntary nature of its program, however, we could not determine how successful APHIS was in obtaining a representative proportion of high-risk cattle for testing. Our prior report recognized the significant challenges for APHIS to obtain samples from the high-risk population because of the inherent problems with obtaining voluntary compliance and transporting carcasses for testing. APHIS took steps to obtain facilitated pathways, by entering into over 100 agreements, to collect and test brain samples for BSE. However, using USDA published data that estimates the distribution of the cattle population, as well as those that died or became nonambulatory, we could not determine whether APHIS achieved either geographical representation or representation of the desired surveillance stream (clinical suspects, fallen stock, casualty slaughter fallen stock, and routine slaughter). Findings 1 and 2 present the conditions noted that impact this evaluation. USDA Testing Protocols and Quality Assurance Procedures In November 2004, USDA announced that its rapid screening test produced an inconclusive BSE test result. A contract laboratory ran its rapid screening test on a brain sample collected for testing and produced three high positive reactive results. As required, the contract laboratory forwarded the inconclusive sample to APHIS’ National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for confirmation. NVSL repeated the rapid screening test, which again produced three high positive reactive results. Following established protocol, NVSL ran its confirmatory test, an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, which was interpreted as negative for BSE. Faced with conflicting results between the rapid screening and IHC tests, NVSL scientists recommended additional testing to resolve the discrepancy but APHIS headquarters officials concluded that no further testing was necessary since testing protocols were followed and the confirmatory test was negative. In our discussions with APHIS officials, they justified their decision to not do additional testing because the IHC test is internationally recognized as the “gold standard” of testing. Also, they believed that
conducting additional tests would undermine confidence in USDA’s testing protocols. OIG obtained evidence that indicated additional testing was prudent. We came to this conclusion because the rapid screening tests produced six high positive reactive results, the IHC tests conflicted, and various standard operating procedures were not followed. Also, our review of the relevant scientific literature, other countries’ protocols, and discussions with experts led us to conclude that additional confirmatory testing should be considered in the event of conflicting test results. To maintain objectivity and independence, we requested that USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) perform the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) Scrapie-Associated Fibrils (SAF) immunoblot test. The additional testing produced positive results. To confirm, the Secretary of Agriculture requested that an internationally recognized BSE laboratory in Weybridge, England (Weybridge) perform additional testing. Weybridge conducted various tests, including their own IHC tests and three Western blot tests. The tests confirmed that the cow was infected with BSE. The Secretary immediately directed USDA scientists to work with international experts to develop new protocols that include performing dual confirmatory tests in the event of an inconclusive BSE screening test. We attribute the failure to identify the BSE positive sample to rigid protocols, as well as the lack of adequate quality assurance controls over its testing program. Details of our concerns are discussed in Findings 3 and 4.
Controls (Firewalls) to Prevent BSE in the Food Supply USDA instituted proactive procedures to prevent tissues and products that could possibly contain the infective agent for BSE from entering the food supply. FSIS performs inspections on cattle before slaughter (ante mortem) to observe clinical signs that may indicate a central nervous system disorder or other signs that may be associated with BSE. Such animals are condemned and prohibited from slaughter for human consumption. FSIS also identified high-risk beef tissue and products as SRMs, and banned them from the food supply. FSIS inspects slaughter processes to verify that slaughterhouses have incorporated controls for handling SRMs into their operational plans; adequate procedures must be in place for removing, segregating, and disposing of SRMs. OIG reviewed the SRM plans of several establishments, observed FSIS inspection procedures, and evaluated the effectiveness of controls during the slaughter process. We did not identify SRMs entering the food supply. However, due to the lack of adequate records, we could not determine whether SRM procedures were followed and/or were adequate in 9 of
12 establishments visited during the audit. There is no requirement in the United States for the age of animals to be recorded, therefore, APHIS and FSIS rely on meat establishments to determine the age of cattle slaughtered using documentation or dentition. SRM restrictions apply predominantly to cattle 30 months of age or older. FSIS periodically checks the accuracy of age determinations through dentition; however, we could not determine how often these checks are made. We found that improvements can be made in the following areas. • FSIS approved an alternate ante mortem inspection procedure that limited the number of cattle subject to inspection. FSIS discontinued this procedure during the audit. • FSIS does not have an information system capable of readily identifying the scope of, and trends in, noncompliance violations relating to SRMs. • Most of the establishments reviewed did not have adequate SRM plans, and FSIS did not always identify these deficiencies. • Several of the establishments did not comply with their SRM plans and/or maintain records to support that they follow their plans. FSIS has addressed the specific cases of noncompliance identified during the audit. Findings
Downers and Cattle that Died on the Farm
Our prior audit recognized the significant challenge for APHIS to obtain samples from some high-risk populations because of the inherent problems with obtaining voluntary compliance and transporting the carcasses for testing. USDA issued rules to prohibit nonambulatory animals (downers) from entering the food supply at inspected slaughterhouses. OIG recommended, and the International Review Subcommittee33 emphasized, that USDA should take additional steps to assure that facilitated pathways exist for dead and nonambulatory cattle to allow for the collection of samples and proper disposal of carcasses. Between June 1, 2004, and May 31, 2005, the APHIS database documents 27,617 samples were collected showing a reason for submission of nonambulatory and 325,225 samples were collected with reason of submission showing “dead.”
We also disagree with APHIS/FSIS’ contention that because they have tested over 375,000 of their 446,000 estimate of high risk cattle, few in the high-risk population are being missed, including those that might be pre-screened before entering a slaughter facility’s property. In our prior audit, we reported that APHIS underestimated the high-risk population; we found that this estimate should have been closer to 1 million animals (see Finding 1).
The policy stated in the preamble to 9 CFR 309.2(b)104 states that FSIS has excluded all nonambulatory disabled cattle from the human food supply, regardless of the reason for their nonambulatory status or the time at which they became nonambulatory (emphasis added). If an animal becomes nonambulatory in route to the establishment due to an acute injury, it must be humanely removed from the truck, humanely euthanized, and the carcass properly disposed of. Likewise, cattle that become nonambulatory on the establishment premises, such as an animal that breaks its leg as it is unloaded from the truck, are also required to be humanely moved, humanely euthanized, and the carcass disposed of properly. However, an FSIS notice105 states that if cattle are ambulatory at ante mortem inspection and become nonambulatory disabled prior to slaughter, the VMO should verify that the animal suffered an acute injury and allow the animal to proceed to slaughter and post mortem inspection. FSIS would expect such situations to be extremely rare because cattle, when handled and moved under proper humane handling conditions, should not be injured while being moved in pens. For cattle that become nonambulatory disabled after ante
mortem inspection, if the VMO cannot determine that a specific, acute injury occurred that caused the animal to become nonambulatory disabled, the animal is to be condemned and cannot enter the slaughter establishment. There appears to be inconsistent USDA policies related to slaughtering downers/nonambulatory cattle. Regarding animals for slaughter, it is clear that downers will not be slaughtered. In fact, one report106 states: “The U.S. Policy is to condemn all cattle that are nonambulatory or disabled when presented for slaughter." The Department has widely publicized that one of the firewalls put in place to prevent the spread of BSE is the prevention of downers from entering the food supply. Our review at the 12 plants visited showed the following variations in application of the policy for condemning or passing nonambulatory cattle for slaughter.
This was the only documentation of the condition of the cattle available at the plants. Plant inspection personnel believed that FSIS Notice 5-04 allowed the slaughter of nonambulatory cattle if the cattle had passed ante mortem inspection and then went down as the result of an acute injury. Therefore, they had allowed the plant to slaughter these cattle for human consumption. We observed use of a forklift and a rail above the pens to transport nonambulatory cattle to the slaughter area.
snip...see full text 130 pages ;
Science 23 November 2001:
Vol. 294. no. 5547, pp. 1726 - 1728
Estimation of Epidemic Size and Incubation Time Based on Age Characteristics
of vCJD in the United Kingdom
Alain-Jacques Valleron,1 Pierre-Yves Boelle,1 Robert Will,2 Jean-Yves
The distribution of the vCJD incubation period that best fits the data within the framework of our model has a mean of 16.7 years, with a standard deviation of 2.6 years. The 95% upper percentile of this distribution is 21.4 years. The 95% confidence interval (CI) of the estimates of the mean and standard deviation is relatively narrow: The 95% CI for the estimate of the mean incubation period is 12.4 to 23.2 years, and the 95% CI of the standard deviation is 0.9 to 8 years (10). The decrease in susceptibility to infection in exposed subjects older than 15 years, as estimated from the parameter , was found to be very sharp: 16% per year of age (CI: 12 to 23%). This means that, under the best fitting hypothesis, an individual aged 20 years in 1981 had 55% less risk of becoming infected than a child aged 15 years (99.9% for an individual aged 70).
SPECIFIED RISK MATERIALS
March 16, 2008
MAD COW DISEASE terminology UK c-BSE (typical), atypical BSE H or L, and or
Communicated by: Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
[In submitting these data, Terry S. Singeltary Sr. draws attention to the steady increase in the "type unknown" category, which, according to their definition, comprises cases in which vCJD could be excluded. The total of 26 cases for the current year (2007) is disturbing, possibly symptomatic of the circulation of novel agents. Characterization of these agents should be given a high priority. - Mod.CP]
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SEE STEADY INCREASE IN SPORADIC CJD IN THE USA FROM
1997 TO 2006. SPORADIC CJD CASES TRIPLED, with phenotype
of 'UNKNOWN' strain growing. ...
There is a growing number of human CJD cases, and they were presented last week in San Francisco by Luigi Gambatti(?) from his CJD surveillance collection.
He estimates that it may be up to 14 or 15 persons which display selectively SPRPSC and practically no detected RPRPSC proteins.