nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, October 1, 2007


News report below on the ground meat recall. As Owen can tell you, the rise of giant processing plants that provide food products to widespread areas of the nation has magnified the impact when improper processing produces a hazard. However…it’s worth noting that 22M pounds of beef caused 25 people to become ill: that’s about 1 person per million pounds (note that reports have said that most of the beef has already been consumed). I suspect that the rate of illness due to improper cooking, or improper storage, is probably hundreds of times greater. Most E. coli strains are harmless, and the ones that aren’t usually cause non-serious illness. The people who get seriously ill may have something else going on: oddball strain, multiple bugs, defective immunity, etc.

In any case, nobody wants bacteria in their food (but, there used to be an FDA standard for the allowable percentage of insect parts in grain products, like flour…maybe there still is).

Before you toss out everything, note that most of this product was pre-formed 10# boxes, and in other reports all the cases of illness were in the NE (making me suspicious that the contamination occurred AFTER the product left the plant). But it’s worth a check of the freezer… How you tell whether it’s Topps, I don’t know.


Ground beef recall expanded. In continuing coverage from a previous briefing, ABC World News (9/30, story 5, 0:30, Harris) reported, "The recall of ground beef from the Topps Company has grown to almost 22 million pounds. And it now includes all packages dated between September 25th this year and next year. Investigators say the meat may have made at least 25 people sick in 8 different states." The AP (10/1) adds, "All recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and-or in the USDA legend," according to the company. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it had suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant after inspectors found inadequate safety measures." And, USA Today (10/1, Weise, 7A, Sternberg) notes, "Most of the recalled products are 10-pound boxes of pre-formed hamburgers sold to institutional customers such as restaurants, hospitals and schools. However, some are 1.5-, 2- and 3-pound boxes that consumers might have purchased." USA Today continues, "The boxed, frozen hamburgers were distributed to retail grocery stores and food service institutions throughout the USA." While most of these products may have already been consumed, Topps said that it is "'imperative that consumers look for these products in their freezers,' and if they find them, dispose of them immediately." HealthDay (10/1) also covers the story.

Doc D

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