Citing concerns about potential E.coli contamination, the National Steak and Poultry Company, an Oklahoma-based meat processor, voluntarily recalled 248,000 pounds of beef on Christmas Eve. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the recall in connection with a Centers for Disease Control investigation into an outbreak of E.Coli 0157:H7 related illnesses in six states: Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota and Washington.
The recalled products all have the establishment number "EST. 6010T" inside the USDA mark of inspection and were packaged on October 12, 13, 14 or 21. A complete list of products is available at National Steak and Poultry's Web site. As of yet, the only indication as to where potentially tainted meat was sent is a note on the site that it was distributed to "restaurants nationwide."
Beyond the lack of information four days later, a potentially larger issue may arise concerning the use of machines to tenderize meat. Critics argue that mechanized tenderizing, in which small needles or blades are used to soften roasts or cuts of beef -- could lead to a potential increase in cases of food poisoning.
Food Safety News reprinted part of a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in June by members of the Make Our Food Safe Coalition, a collection of food safety advocates:
"These needles or blades pierce the surface of the product increasing the risk that any pathogens located on the surface can be transferred to the interior of the product."The principle is the same as your cutting board. After it's been scored by the use of your knife, it's possible for bacteria to slip into the grooves. So even if you clean the surface of the board thoroughly, you might not clean out the grooves.