The UFCW Union press release and the AP report are posted after the jump in the extended post below. I'll have more details on this soon.
FOOD SAFETY INVESTIGATION UNCOVERS VIOLATIONS AT NATION’S LARGEST KOSHER MEATPACKING COMPANY
Government documents reveal failures at Agriprocessors’ Nebraska Plant to safeguard consumers from mad cow disease and E. coli, as well as more than 30 sanitation violations ranging from sewage to insect infestation
WASHINGTON – A new investigative report documenting food safety issues at the Agriprocessors, Inc., Local Pride Plant in Gordon, Neb., shows a pattern of food safety violations, including failures to properly implement bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow” disease, and E. coli safeguards, as well as more than 30 sanitation violations, ranging from sewage on the kill floor to insect infestation.
This report comes on the heals of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company recall, which was the largest recall in United States Department of Agriculture history. With more than 143 million pounds of meat being recalled because of increased risk of mad cow contamination, consumers are extremely concerned about the safety of the products they purchase.
The new report, which was released today by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, analyzed government documents received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The documents revealed that Agriprocessors’ Gordon, Neb., plant had more than 115 Noncompliance Records (NR) from July 2005 to March 2007. These documents are issued when Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel determine that a company has failed to meet certain safety or regulatory requirements.
In the case of Agriprocessors’ Local Pride Plant, food safety inspectors raised concerns regarding the company’s failure to implement mad cow and E. coli safeguards, as well as overall sanitation issues at the plant. Agriprocessors’ sells products under the Aaron’s Best and David’s labels and is a supplier for Nathan’s Famous Kosher Hot Dogs.
The new report states, “a critical aspect of any food safety system is sampling for E. coli. E. coli H157 is a bacteria found in the intestines of cattle.” According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), meat can become contaminated during the slaughter process. E. coli, the CDC states, “often causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps” and could result in “acute kidney failure in children.” E. coli has been responsible for at least 20 recalls in 2007 alone.
This new report comes after a UFCW food safety investigation in August of 2007 of Agriprocessors’ Postville, Ia., plant uncovered serious issues including recalled products, mad cow related safety concerns and repeated fecal and bile contamination.
In addition, several Members of Congress sent a letter to the USDA in November inquiring about the state of food safety at Agriprocessors and what actions the agency plans to implement given the repeated nature of food safety problems at the plant.
Local Pride Food Safety Report.pdf
E. coli-related noncompliances.PDF
All Noncompliance records.pdf
The AP reports:
Friday, Feb 29, 2008 - 10:45:50 am CST
GORDON, Neb. - A food workers union is alleging that federal investigators have found dozens of food safety violations at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Gordon, Neb.
A news release from the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union said Friday that U.S. Department of Agriculture documents show the plant has failed to implement safeguards against "mad cow" disease or E. coli contamination.
The documents said the Local Pride plant operated by Agriprocessors had more than 115 citations from July 2005 to March 2007.
There were more than 30 sanitation violations alleged, including instances of sewage on the kill floor and insect infestations.
The plant manager was not immediately available to comment Friday, a spokesman said.
A call to a spokeswoman for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service was not immediately returned.
A union spokesman, Scott Frotman, said the union has no evidence that anyone had gotten sick from eating any of the products produced at the plant and so was not making such an allegation.
Agriprocessors' Local Pride is a kosher-certified plant that produces Aaron's Best and David's products and hot dogs for Nathan's Famous Kosher Hot Dogs.
Local Pride opened in June 2006 under an agreement between the Sholom Rubashkin family of New York and the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The Rubashkins also own the world's largest kosher plant, Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.
In August of last year, the union issued a report raising concerns about sanitation conditions at the Postville plant, also citing USDA violations.