FSIS Update Of Recall Activities
February 9, 2004
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2004 –USDA’s Food
Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is providing the following update today
on the December 23, 2003 Class II recall of raw, boneless beef and other
products that may have been exposed to tissues containing the agent that
causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The recall was
initiated out of an abundance of caution.
FSIS' designation of the recall as Class II was
due to the extremely low likelihood that the products contained the infectious
agent that causes BSE. According to scientific evidence, the tissues of highest
infectivity are the brain, spinal cord, and distal ileum. All were removed from
the carcass on the day of slaughter. Therefore,
the meat produced were cuts that would not be expected to be infected or have an
adverse public health impact.
- Shortly after USDA diagnosed a presumptive positive case of BSE on Dec.
23, FSIS initiated a recall and issued a press release that was distributed
nationally. Simultaneously, its recall management division began collecting
distribution information from the establishments that slaughtered and
processed meat from the affected animal. Over the course of several weeks,
FSIS Enforcement, Investigation and Analysis Officers and FSIS Compliance
Officers, aided by other federal and state agencies, completed the painstaking
process of tracing the entire distribution chain, contacting and/or visiting
every establishment that may have received product to ensure that all products
that had not been used had been secured. They determined that approximately
578 establishments received products related to the recall. The number is
inclusive of every facility that produced, processed, distributed, sold at
retail or served products subject to the recall.
- FSIS has verified that that every establishment that may have received
product was notified and had secured any remaining product. The Agency is now
working to verify the return and destruction of the recalled products.
- Shortly after the announcement of the recall by FSIS, retail grocery
chains in Washington, Oregon, Californian and Idaho issued press releases
informing their customers of the recall. Other retail establishments posted
signs informing their customers that they may have received products subject
to recall. Establishments that may have received products acted swiftly to
secure any products they had that may have been part of the recall.
- Products subject to recall were shipped beginning on Dec. 11. Most of the
product subject to recall was fresh ground beef which was distributed and sold
primarily to grocery stores and restaurants prior to the initiation of the
- As is often the case with product following multiple distribution chains,
additional beef was mixed in with the original beef products at several points
in the distribution network. All became subject to recall. Because of this,
the total amount of meat distributed subject to the recall was approximately
- Among the total, approximately 3,000 pounds of soup bones were distributed
to restaurants in California. FSIS verification checks established that the
soup bones, which also are a negligible risk product, were largely sold and or
used prior to the beginning of the recall on Dec. 23.
- Approximately 21,000 pounds of product has been returned.
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. The hotline is available in English and
Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday
through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
NOTE: Access news releases and other
information at the FSIS Web site at
Class I This is a health hazard situation
where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious,
adverse health consequences or death.
Class II This is a health hazard
situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use
of the product.
Class III This is a situation where
the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.
For Further Information, Contact:
- Consumers: Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotlline
- Media: (202) 720-9113
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