Where’s the (Safe) Beef? Ground Beef Recalls Up in 2007

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Given that this is a food blog, and given that we believe in knowing where your food comes from, we felt that this photo was an excellent way to kick off the day. And no, those are not rolls of insulation – they’re beef carcasses being scalded and vacuumed.

From the New York Times: Fifteen years after an outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants made people aware that hamburgers could kill them, the American beef industry is still searching for a practical method to prevent the toxic E. coli strain from contaminating ground beef.

There have already been 20 Department of Agriculture recalls of beef this year – just one short of the record set in 2000. Why, when processors like Tyson are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to keep pathogens out of meat, do cases of E. coli and other dangerous bacteria still persist?

Dean Danilson, chief of food safety at Tyson says that in the end it’s impossible to completely stop E. coli. “Taking a dirty animal and turning it into food – from the time of the cave man, that has not been an easy process.”

Do you take any extra precautions when buying beef? Or does the still relatively-low incidence of E. coli not bother you too much? Do you avoid ground beef?