The recalled meat had been slaughtered between September 5, 2013 and April 25, 2014. None of the meat is currently in any of the Whole Foods stores, and the government has said all the meat delivered to the restaurants had likely already been consumed, and for this reason they’re not giving out the names of the restaurants. For those who think they might have some of this meat in their freezer, the agriculture Department inspection mark on the beef contains the number “EST. 2316.”
While the federal government asked for the beef be recalled, they viewed the incident as being a “remote” health hazard, as the cows which were slaughtered did not show any sign of mad cow disease. The concerns were with the age of the cows, and special rules which must be followed when slaughtering older bovine to help prevent mad cow disease. The disease is believed to be the source of the fatal brain disorder variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which is found in humans. Transmission of the disease to humans is believed to take place when a person eats the brain, digestive tract or spinal cord of a cow infected with the disease. Symptoms of the disease can take years to develop.
Fruitland American, the company in question, has denied the meat was mishandled, and they blame the incident on a clerical error. They claim the clerical error indicates the cows in question were over 30 months old which would require the special slaughtering rules to be followed, but birth records show these cows were no more than 28 months old at the time of slaughtering. The Agricultural Department says that the slaughterhouse logs indicate the dorsal root ganglia (part of the spine) of the cows in question may not have been entirely removed, which is required for those cows over 30 months old. The Agricultural Department has also indicated they’re looking into whether or not a clerical error may have been made.
(Photo courtesy of Ernesto Andrade)