US E.coli investigation focus turns to source verification

Beef Central, 24/05/2012


Investigations into the US E.coli detection episode which has implicated manufacturing meat supplied from Australia are now focussing on verifying the source of the contamination.  

Beef Central broke the story in Australia on Tuesday afternoon (see original story “Industry wary over US E.coli claim.”) The events have since captured mainstream media attention, picked-up in today’s major metropolitan print and radio media, some of which carried grossly distorted interpretations of the facts.  

Trade and industry sources in Australia continue to treat with reservation claims made in the US that Australian beef is responsible.

DAFF Biosecurity this afternoon released an updated statement on the issue, confirming that the ‘implicated’ Australian product was found negative through the Australian E.coli O157:H7 testing program prior to export, and complying with the relevant US testing program.

The consignment met US import requirements and was cleared by US border authorities, DAFF’s statement confirmed.

“Discussions are ongoing with all parties concerned while confirmation of the source of the contamination is being progressed. Contamination can occur at any part of the supply chain,” DAFF’s statement said.

“The US further-processing plants associated with the detection issued a recall of the product. The recall action was voluntary and did not occur as a result of formal action by US authorities.”

“All meat produced in Australia for export and domestic consumption remains safe,” the statement said.

Until proven wrong, senior Australian export industry stakeholders contacted by Beef Central today said they remain dubious about the source claims.

“There is something odd about this episode, especially as it’s only 7000 pounds in volume, and Australian beef is inevitably co-mingled with US domestic product in the grind,” a trusted contact said.

DAFF was unable to say how long investigations into the incident, including source verification will take, but a result may not be provided until well into next week, one source suggested.


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