One year after beef recall, no decline in beef consumption

A little over a year ago the largest
recall of beef in US history led to speculation that Americans might curb
their beef consumption over fear of |E. coli| — so far, that simply
hasn’t happened.

Hudson Foods Co. recalled 25 million
pounds of beef produced at its Columbus, Ohio, plant based on fears that
the meat may have been contaminated with potentially deadly E. coli.
Although prices in the cattle futures and similar markets declined in
the days immediately after the recall, Americans average yearly consumption
of beef has remained steady at about 64 pounds.

Part of the explanation for the
continued popularity of beef has been the industry’s quick initiatives
to combat E. coli contamination. Ranchers, meat packers and others
in the beef industry quickly formed the Beef Industry Food Safety Council
in the wake of the Hudson Foods recall to promote education and research
into preparing beef safely. Most plants also stopped the reprocessing
of meat left over from the previous day — no one in the industry wants
to have to recall several days worth of production as Hudson did because
of its reprocessing procedures.

Hudson Foods sold the Columbus
plant, but it is still not completely off the hook. The U.S. Attorney’s
office in Oregon is investigating whether the managers at the Hudson plant
tried to cover up the extent of the E. coli contamination.

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