The US Department of Agriculture has issued a Class 1 recall on 130,000 pounds of ground beef nationwide, according to a news release from the agency. The E. coli contamination is thought to have originated from a Cargill Meat Solutions facility in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
Target is the latest retailer to join the expansive list of stores impacted by the recall, following in the footsteps of Sam’s Club, Safeway and Aldi, among many others.
“Food safety is critically important to Target and we take seriously our responsibility to offer safe products for our guests,” Danielle Schumann, a Target spokeswoman, said in an email to The Chicago Tribune. “The recall Cargill initiated impacted three ground beef items sold at 1,580 stores nationwide with an expiration of July 18, 2018.”
The Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products were identified as the source of the contamination following further investigation related to Recall 072-2018 and were produced and packaged on June 21, 2018.
As reported by the USDA, “most people infected with STEC O26 develop bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.”
“The Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground beef products purchased at various retail stores that were supplied by Cargill Meat Solutions,” the USDA notes.
This recall comes on the heels of Walmart’s announcement to turn to blockchain technology for enhanced food traceability in their produce departments across the country.
“By quickly tracing [products] back to source during an outbreak using recent advances in new and emerging technologies, impacts to human health can be minimized, health officials can conduct rapid and more thorough root cause analysis to inform future prevention efforts, and the implication and associated-losses of unaffected products that are inaccurately linked to an outbreak can be avoided,” a letter from Walmart to its suppliers states.
As FreightWaves’ Chad Prevost wrote following the romaine lettuce recall earlier this year, “If safety issues don’t get our unilateral attention, perhaps simple economics will. The Pew Charitable Trust research center reports that acute foodborne illnesses cost the United States an estimated $152 billion per year in healthcare, workplace and other economic losses, according to a report published today by the Produce Safety Project (PSP).
Today, when an outbreak or recall occurs, each participant must disclose their product’s path one step forward and one step back. Regulatory bodies and retailers must take that data and piece it together manually to determine the source of the issue. The process can take days or weeks. In some cases, the source may not be known. But blockchain’s traceability gives users the ability to pinpoint outbreaks before they ripple through the supply chains–and customers’ grocery carts.
“Blockchain can and should be used to promote transparency around food safety,” said Natalie Dyenson, vice president of food safety and quality at Dole, a charter member of Food Trust.
Along with organizations like Food Trust, the Blockchain in Transport Alliance aims to standardize blockchain and its implementation in the supply chain and on the shelves, while companies like ripe.io have worked to modernize the food quality network for today’s consumer.
“Food supply chain decisions can very clearly be improved through increased focus on data, visibility and transparency, so connecting the value chain in a much more effective way than it is today and make data driven decisions,” Maersk Growth Venture Partner Peter Jorgensen said in an interview with FreightWaves’ Ashley Coker.
“This will require that we go back to the start of the supply chain and capture the data with a method of high integrity and reliability, which at the same time delivers authenticity and provenance, whether to validate products being organic, to trace them back in case of call-backs or to give consumers transparency on what is in our food and what has happened to it through the chain” Jorgensen stated.
An employee of Cargill spoke with FreightWaves on background to note that they “worked with the USDA to find a common source” before “working with the USDA to notify consumers.” According to the source, no product remains is on shelves.
The company is cooperating with the USDA, and a team of food safety experts has been sent to the Fort Morgan, Colorado facility for a full review.
At the time of publication, FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to use them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
A current list of retailers impacted by the recall can be found here.