US: Fairbury packer's recalled beef tests negative for E. coli
Posted: November 21st, 2009 - 2:06pm
Source: Journal Star
Private lab tests of ground beef recalled this week by a Fairbury packer came back negative for E. coli, contradicting an Agriculture Department test that caused the recall.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service ordered the 90 pounds of ground beef recalled after a microbiological test showed E. coli contamination. Fairbury Steaks said its own testing of a sample three times showed the beef was uncontaminated before the meat was recalled.
But the government test takes precedence, so the government ordered a Class I recall, which means the health risk is high.
Fairbury Steaks recovered all the ground beef from a Ruskin restaurant, then had samples tested by Midwest Laboratories of Omaha.
Those tests of nine packages of recalled ground beef, plus a sample from its replacement shipment to the customer, all tested negative for E. coli., according to results forwarded to the Journal Star.
To assure the integrity of the process, Fairbury Steaks owner Dennis Brown said two USDA representatives watched him cut open the recalled beef, take samples and ship them to Midwest Laboratories.
"They documented it," Brown said.
The rest of the recalled beef remains at Fairbury Steaks, he said.
Midwest Laboratories, which does a lot of E. coli testing for meatpackers, confirmed the company's negative test results.
But those results are valid only for the samples submitted.
The negative test results from Midwest Laboratories don't guarantee there wasn't E. coli in the original USDA sample tested, said Midwest Laboratories spokeswoman Sue Ann Seitz.