With Covid-19 affecting many elements of the food supply chain (not to mention the basic function of most jobs), it was perhaps unsurprising if not inevitable that some food safety issues would slip through the cracks in 2020.
Now, an announcement from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service says that more than 38,000 pounds of boneless beef products are subject to a recall. The issue stems from meat sold by JBS Food Canada ULC, who shipped 38,406 pounds of “boneless beef head meat products that were not presented for re-inspection into the United States.”
The meat was imported on July 13, and processed into ground beef by another company, where it was sold to consumers. The uninspected meat was sold as 80 pound boxes each containing eight different 10-pound “chubs” of Balter Meat Company 73/27 ground beef with a use/freeze by date of August 9 or 10 2020, with pack dates of July 20-22 and lot codes of 2020A or 2030A on the label. The meat in question passed through distribution centers in Florida, Georgia, and both Carolinas before heading onward to retail locations.
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So what happened? It looks like this particular batch of meat slipped right through the cracks, as the FSIS announcement cites surveillance footage that showed the shipment bypassing the usual re-inspection process for imports. That doesn’t inherently mean there’s anything wrong with the meat (unless JBS Food Canada knowingly skipped re-inspection to hide something, which would be a much bigger issue), but it definitely hasn’t officially been deemed safe for human consumption.
At the same time, it turns out there’s a concurrent issue with onions that is sickening consumers, however. The CDC and FDA recently announced a voluntary recall of Thomson International’s Red, Yellow, White and Sweet Yellow onions shipped to restaurants and retailers in all 50 states between May 1 and the present. As of August 3, nearly 400 people across 34 states have gotten salmonella from the questionable onions.
Obviously the CDC and FDA have a lot on their plate right now, and a diminished capacity to do their normal duties. While the vast majority of food you’d encounter on store shelves remains safe to eat, I have a feeling this isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing about foodborne illnesses between now and whenever the pandemic is finally, truly behind us.
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