Posted on January 19th, 2012 by Zane Cagle
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has issued a recall for meat products produced at a Lafayette County meat processing facility. During a January 4 inspection, the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Program found that the cooked-meat products had been handled in an unsafe manner and not properly inspected. The program then halted all production at the plant. As a result, the meat processor is recalling approximately 320 pounds of meat, the details of which can be found in the link below.
According to statistic cited by the University of Missouri, 76,000,000 people are made ill each year by unsafe foods, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The majority of these cases are due to mishandling or improper storage in the home, but some come from improper handling or lax safety standards. In this case, it does not appear anyone has been made ill from the recalled meat products. And while these numbers may seem high, consider that there are approximately 273,750,000,000 meals eaten in the United States each year. If 76,000,000 illnesses are caused by those meals, that is one in every 3,600. So, while one should make sure they are properly handling their food and keeping clean food preparation areas, the chances of contracting food poisoning are reasonably low.
This was not always the case, however. In the early part the late 19<sup>th</sup> and early 20<sup>th</sup> century, there was little to no regulation as to how meat was handled. This would famously lead to <em>The Jungle</em>, in which Upton Sinclair gives a first-hand account of the goings-on in a Chicago meatpacking facility. Contaminated meat being covered in chemicals and dyed in order to be re-sold, workers falling into vats of lard and not being removed for days, poisoned rats being shoveled up along with cows in order to be ground, and other horrors shocked the American public. This would lead to Teddy Roosevelt signing the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. This is the law that would eventually lead to agencies like the one mentioned above to inspect food processing plants regularly to ensure sanitary conditions.
Today, more than 7,800 food safety inspectors inspect approximately 6,200 food processing and meat packing sites around the country. There, these inspectors make sure diseased animals are not being used for food, and making sure that the meat produced contains no microbes or pathogens that can cause consumers to fall ill. They also make sure the food is handled in a sanitary manner, such as making sure the meat is kept at optimal temperatures and adequately washed. They also work to make sure that food products are properly labeled and the nutritional information is accurate. And if a company violates any of these provisions (such as the company mentioned here), the USDA has the power to halt food production of the plant until sanitary conditions are met or, in extreme cases, shut the plant down entirely.
Even with all these testing in the world, sometimes bad food slips past inspectors and makes consumers ill. If this has happened to you, you know how severe food poisoning can be. Diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and chills are common, but some severe cases (such as those caused by botulism) can lead to difficulty breathing and even death. Zane T. Cagle and the Missouri foodborne illness attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm know the law, and know how to help make you whole. If you or a loved one has been made sick due to unsanitary food handling, call Zane T. Cagle and the Missouri food poisoning attorneys today at 1.800.685.3302 today for a free consultation.
SOURCE: Missouri Department of Agriculture