Montclair Meat Co., Inc., a Montclair, Calif., establishment is recalling approximately 53,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated withE. coliO157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The products subject to recall include various pound packages of "Montclair Meat Co. Ground Beef" and "Montclair Meat Co. All Beef Patties." Each package bears establishment number "Est. 6116" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These ground beef products were produced between the dates of May 3, 2010 through May 13, 2010, and were shipped to retailers and federal establishments for further processing in the Los Angeles, Calif., metropolitan area.

The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Brazilian beef with high animal drug levels recalled

Sampco, Inc., a Chicago, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 87,000 pounds of beef products that may contain the animal drug Ivermectin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic and is used as a de-worming agent in live animals.

The products subject to recall are 12-oz. cans of "Libby's Corned Beef" distributed to retail locations nationwide with production codes "100222 U," "100219 U," or "100224 U," and 35-pound boxes of "Seasoned Cooked Beef" distributed to an establishment for further processing. Each product package bears "BRASIL 337 S.I.F" on either the top or the side, as well as "Product of Brazil" or "Packed under Brazilian Government Inspection."

The problem was discovered through FSIS routine sampling. Since March 15, 2010, samples from cooked beef products imported from Brazil establishment SIF 337 have resulted in twelve instances of the level of Ivermectin found in the product exceeding the tolerance level established by the Department of Health and Human Service's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of 10 parts per billion in beef muscle. The production lots that produced violative results were refused entry into the U.S. and are not available in commerce. However, it was discovered associated products with similar source materials entered the country separately. These are the products that were released into commerce and therefore subject to the recall. The Brazilian firm SIF 337 has been delisted and beef products from that establishment are not permitted entry to the U.S.

FSIS is taking additional actions regarding other lots of cooked beef products from Brazil establishment SIF 337 and other manufacturers of cooked beef products from Brazil. The Agency plans to sample at Point of Entry cooked beef product from other manufacturers of like product from Brazil to ensure the problem is only associated with product from SIF 337.

FSIS will also perform retail sampling of lots of other cooked beef product from SIF 337 that entered the country since January 2010 to determine if any of these products in commerce may have Ivermectin above the FDA tolerance level. If additional product is found in commerce, FSIS will take the appropriate regulatory action.

Source: FSIS

Sara Lee CEO takes medical leave of absence

Sara Lee Corp. announced that Chairman and CEO Brenda C. Barnes will take a temporary medical leave of absence, effective immediately. The company’s board of directors has named Marcel Smits, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to serve as interim CEO until she returns. James S. Crown, lead independent director, will assume the role of chairman.

“We wish Brenda a speedy recovery and look forward to her return,” said Crown. “Out of respect for Brenda’s privacy, we will not be commenting further.”

Crown added, “We are pleased we have an executive of Marcel Smits’ caliber to serve as CEO in the interim.”

In addition, the company announced the formation of an Office of the Chairman comprised of Crown, Smits and Christopher John (C.J.) Fraleigh, chief executive officer of North American Retail and Foodservice. The group has been formed to ensure the continued effective execution of strategic initiatives and further enhance operational efficiencies.

The company has named Mark Garvey as its interim chief financial officer. Having joined Sara Lee in 1995, Garvey served in a variety of executive positions for the company. He presently is the company’s senior vice president, Global Business Services and corporate controller.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

USDA sets new standards for ground beef purchases

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA had completed tough new food safety standards for ground beef purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for Federal food and nutrition assistance programs including school lunches.

"The health of our school children is a top priority at USDA, and today we are moving ahead quickly with plans announced earlier this year to ensure that food provided to nutrition programs is as safe and nutritious as possible," Vilsack said. "The new standards announced today ensure our purchases are in line with major private-sector buyers of ground beef and are part of our continued effort to employ the best scientific knowledge to increase the safety of our nutritional programs."

This past February, Vilsack announced a series of initiatives to improve the safety of food purchased for school lunch and nutrition assistance programs, and standards announced today marks the completion of one of those initiatives. The standards are the result of a joint review by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) that has been ongoing since the February announcement.

The new requirements will be applicable to AMS ground beef contracts awarded on or after July 1, 2010.

In addition to continuing a zero tolerance for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, the new AMS standards will:
(1)tighten microbiological testing protocols;
(2)tighten the microbiological upper specification and critical limits;
(3)increase microbiological sampling frequency for finished products to every 15 minutes; and,
(4)institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture AMS purchased ground beef.

AMS will also consider any vendor classified by FSIS as having a long-term poor safety record as an ineligible vendor until a complete cause-and-effect analysis is completed.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has begun its review of AMS ground beef purchase requirements. NAS brings together experts in all areas of science to provide an independent review of the program. The review is focused on three major areas: 1) a thorough evaluation of the scientific validity of current technical requirements and methods; 2) to benchmark those processes and methods against recognized industry leading programs, which supply product directly to consumers through retail sales or food service operations; and 3) provide recommendations to AMS on how to perform future periodic evaluations against industry recognized best practices.

Source: USDA

China to resume pork imports

The FSIS has announced that China has agreed to resume imports of U.S. pork produced on or after May 1, ending a ban that ensued after the H1N1 scare of 2009.

The USDA “is working with Chinese officials to adjust the product eligibility date to March 24, 2010 -- the date specified in the original agreement to reopen China’s market to U.S. pork and pork products,” the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, Reuters reports.

Source: Reuters