A beef recall occurs in the United States when there is a possibility that the meat has met with non-compliance standards set by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the United States Agricultural Department (USDA). Whenever there is even the most remote possibility that beef could cause an illness of any kind in humans, a beef recall is issued. Reasons for a beef recall can include suspected contamination with Escherichia coli O145 bacteria, more commonly known as E. coli. Salmonella is another cause for beef recall, as is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, more commonly known as the mad cow disease.
One simple reason for a beef recall to occur is non-compliance with stated standards. When a rancher or a processing plant or a distributor does not comply with the strict standards that the USDA and FDA have set in place, the beef generated by any one of these sources will be recalled. Beef is checked and regulated at all steps along the way, from the time a calf is born until its meat reaches the hands of the consumer. Any sign of non-compliance requires a beef recall.
Beef contamination can happen in a number of different ways. A cow can have a chronic illness, which in turn infects the meat that is made from it. Cattle that are weak or infirm must be kept out of the food supply of the other cattle, as this can also provide a way to spread infection, thus contaminating the beef production generated from a particular herd.
While mad cow disease has generated great hype within the media, the biggest threat to beef is the E. coli bacteria. The E. coli bacteria can be the bearer of very mild mild symptoms, such as gastrointestinal disturbances and discomfort. It can also cause very severe symptoms that may cause cramping of the stomach and dysentery, which may contain blood. While the average healthy adult can recover from this bacterial infection, there are those who contract the illness who experience serious complications, such as kidney damage. Complications such as this are most commonly seen in the elderly and in young children.
While regulations may seem stringent, the reasoning behind the strict monitoring of the processing of all meat products is entirely for the consumer's good health. A beef recall is not something to take lightly or something to disregard. A beef recall indicates a most certain threat to the consumer's health.