Food Recall Data

Ground beef

Ground beef

In 1993 the meatpacking industry sued the USDA in federal court following the Clinton administration’s announcement that it would begin randomly testing beef for E.coli O157:H7, They lost that suit opening the way for the USDA to begin a “science-based” inspection system that has since been expanded to include testing for other pathogens, as well as testing of poultry and processed egg products.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a public health agency within the USDA, maintains records relating to its food safety mission and makes them publically available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Included in this information is an archive of raw statistics on product recoveries by establishment. SRA Project has compiled this raw data into a series of charts covering the years between 2002 to 2012 we believe will be of interest to our readers.

Starting in 2008 and including 2009, data are available that show the total quantities of meat reclaimed as a percentage of the recalled meat totals. Reclaimed meat totals indicate what has been recovered (returned to producer), but does not explain what is subsequently done with the meat upon recovery. Recovery rates per recall remain an issue, as it appears that most recalled meat is not recovered (shown as Unrecovered in chart legend). This imbalance raises the possibility that this meat was either consumed before or after the recall. Recovery rates can vary for several reasons, – how quickly meat gets to market, the number of days between production or when problems are detected.

Please feel free to download, print, and distribute these charts for your own use. We simply ask that you do not remove the footer information displaying the name of our organization, the date and the reference to FSIS as the source of the data.

Foodborne illness costs the United States an estimated $152 billion annually. The Make Our Food Safecoalition’s website has built an interactive online map that uses data from former FDA economist Robert L. Scharff’s report, The Health Related Costs of Foodborne Illness. This interactive map allows readers to see medical, quality of life, lost life expectancy and other related costs for each state.

In the News

March 2012

GRIST CAFO Conviction News Article–  a precedent was set by a federal district court judge in Washington state when he ordered a factory farm dairy to more closely monitor their ground water and soil pollution levels. The ruling puts responsibility on the current owners of the dairy to comply with a 2006 agreement. The agreement was the result of a lawsuit by the nonprofit Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) against the diary’s previous owners. Helen Reddout, a CARE representative, talks in detail in the article about this landmark decision and its impact on manure handling and pollution by CAFOs.