About 6.5 million pounds of beef is being recalled by Arizona-based meat producer JBS Tolleson, INC. Veuer’s Natasha Abellard has the story.
PHOENIX – More than 6.5 million pounds of raw beef products were voluntarily recalled Thursday from a plant in Arizona where federal officials had previously complained about “egregious” and “inhumane” livestock conditions.
The Tolleson facility is operated by Brazilian company JBS S/A’s U.S. subsidiary, JBS USA. Officials said the meat may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport, a strain of the bacteria that is a common cause of food poisoning.
The products include meat sold under various brands – including 5 Star Beef, Cedar River Farms, Showcase, La Herencia, Four Star, Clear River and thinkpure – that was shipped nationwide.
People are urged to check their freezers to make sure they don’t have the recalled meat.
Investigators say at least 57 people in 16 states have reported getting sick.
Hundreds of products are on the list. The USDA said the meat was packaged between July 26 and Sept. 7. They have an establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The recall announcement came more than a year after the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent an enforcement notice to the company’s president and months after one of the company’s plants in North Carolina recalled 35,000 pounds of raw ground beef.
JBS also is the majority owner of the Pilgrim’s Pride line, which in February recalled more than 101,000 pounds of breaded chicken due to possible foreign-matter contamination.
“Yesterday, out of an abundance of caution, JBS USA initiated a voluntary recall of ground beef products from our Tolleson, Ariz., beef production facility due to the potential presence of Salmonella,” JBS USA spokeswoman Misty Barnes wrote in an email. “Our priority at all times is consumer safety. We are working in close partnership with USDA to make sure all potentially impacted product is removed from stores and homes.”
Barnes could not be reached by phone and did not respond to emailed questions.
Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer nationally recognized for his work in food safety, said he hasn’t seen a recall this size in years.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” he said. “I can’t recall off the top of my head when the last multimillion-pound recall was, but it’s been a while.”
Feds complain of ‘egregious’ practices
JBS pays livestock producers for livestock sent to the Tolleson facility, according to the company’s website. A July 2017 notice from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service accused the facility’s president of enabling “egregious” and “inhumane” practices with livestock.
Officials found two “mentally incoherent” cows laying on their sides and “moaning as if in pain.” The inspector asked for the cows to be euthanized — one died in its pen before it could be put down, according to the notice.
Documents show JBS Tolleson took issue with the original federal notice and wrote “we feel that we were operating in a humane fashion.”
The USDA inspectors deferred action and gave JBS Tolleson a chance to implement a proposed action plan, according to an October 2017 agency document.
What are the signs and symptoms of salmonella infection?
Most people infected with salmonella develop the following signs and symptoms 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria:
• Abdominal cramps.
How long does the illness last?
The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Who is more likely to have a severe illness?
• Children younger than 5 years.
• Adults older than 65.
• People with weakened immune systems.
Contributing: KUSA-TV, Denver
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