A massive, nationwide beef recall has driven New Jersey-based Topps Meat Co. out of business, but government scientists are still scratching their heads when it comes to pinpointing the source of the E. Coli bacteria that contaminated the company’s ground beef, which reportedly made 32 people ill.
According to an article in The State , even after the company shut down putting 87 people out of their jobs, the investigation goes on. The only information we know is the U.S. Agriculture Department’s finding that Topps’ plant in Elizabeth, N.J., lacked adequate food safety measures to prevent the E. Coli contamination.
What has turned out to be the second largest beef recall in this country’s history – a whopping 21.7 million pounds of ground beef — has also led to criticism of the U.S. Agriculture department who many believe should have hastened the recall. USDA officials are now saying that they will speed up such recalls and warnings in the future, which is of course too late for the 32 people across eight states who were sickened by the contaminated beef. No deaths have been reported so far.
Topps’ legal troubles have already begun. It faces two lawsuits – one from the family of a girl from Upstate New York and another seeking class-action status. Yet another girl in Florida, who suffered kidney failure as a result of the infection, sued Wal-Mart that sold Topps’ patties as well.
According to The State article, Topps has not declared bankruptcy yet, but that could change in the future. Attorneys for plaintiffs maintain that the declaration of bankruptcy will not prevent plaintiffs from getting compensation although it may slow down the process.
Any food recall of this magnitude is worrisome because we don’t hear about its complete effects for a long time. The company sold its products to schools, hospitals and restaurants all over the country. Hundreds of thousands have probably been served with these products, have been sickened by them, and didn’t even know where they came from. The company should’ve taken more precautions, given the perishable nature of its product, to ensure safer conditions. The health agencies we depend on to enforce our nation’s health regulations should do a better job of inspecting these facilities and warning consumers as soon a possible so the effects of these food-borne illnesses may be minimized.
If you or a loved one has been sickened or if you know someone who has suffered organ damage or has been killed because of these E.Coli tainted beef products, call our South Carolina food-borne illness attorneys for a free consultation. For a full list of the recalled products, visit http://www.toppsmeat.com.