According to today's NYTimes report, the first hint that frozen hamburger patties from Topps Meat Company of Elizabeth, NJ might carry the E.coli bacteria came on July 5 when a girl in Pennsylvania sickened after eating one. Testing confirmed the bacteria to be present on September 7. ( Over a month for these results??)
Yet the USDA apparently did not announce the recall of 21.7 million pounds of meat until September 25. Today Topps, in business since 1940, closed its doors and sent 87 employees home.
The Times stated that "Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, said the company was unable to withstand the financial burden of the recall.
“This is tragic for all concerned,” Mr. D’Urso said in a statement. “In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large.”" I think he missed the part about being falling ill from eating his company's tainted products...
The USDA website has a different, somewhat more complex report on this.
Deputy Assistant Administrator for the USDA Office of Policy, Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, said the agency would require all beef plants to demonstrate they have E.coli: 0157: H7 under control, based on a checklist established in 2002.
He went on to say, limply, "We are notifying all slaughter and grinder establishments that it is their responsibility to ensure that these measures are in place. "
(The words "slaughter and grinder" really stick in my craw, like a piece of tainted meat. Mass animal processing described in raw terms.)