Whole Story

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Voluntary Ground Beef Recall

By Paige Brady, August 11, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Paige Brady
Edited from an August 8, 2008 Press Release In response to state and federal investigations into an E. coli outbreak, we've announced a voluntary multi-state recall of fresh ground beef sold between June 2 and August 6, 2008 because of a concern that it may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. We've been informed that the beef in question apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef whose Nebraska Beef processing plant was previously subject to a nationwide recall for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. At the time of the previous recall, we received assurances from Coleman Natural Beef that no product delivered to our stores was linked to the recall. Those assurances are now in question and we are actively investigating the issue. At this time, no Coleman Natural Beef fresh ground beef products from the Nebraska Beef processing facility are available in any Whole Foods Market stores. "While Coleman Natural Beef is a relatively small supplier for Whole Foods Market, we are extremely disappointed that we must now question Coleman's assurances," said Edmund Lamacchia, global vice president of procurement. Neither Coleman Natural Beef nor Nebraska Beef are owned or operated by Whole Foods Market. At this time, although the illnesses allegedly linked to Whole Foods Market are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, we chose to broaden our voluntary recall to the following states out of an abundance of caution: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D. C., Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Canada. The recalls come as a result of investigations into confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The investigations include supermarkets Dorothy Lane and Kroger, as well as beef suppliers and processors such as Coleman Natural Beef and Nebraska Beef, and are still ongoing as state and federal agencies work to determine the source of the outbreak. As a precaution, on August 6th, we voluntarily pulled shipments of beef from Coleman from our stores nationwide. No beef associated with the recall is currently on any of our meat counter shelves. Customers can continue to shop our meat departments with confidence. We are asking customers who may have ground beef purchased between June 2nd and August 6th (check your freezer) to dispose of the product and return to the store with the packaging or receipt for a full refund. "At Whole Foods Market, one of our top priorities is consumer safety, and we go to great lengths to ensure the safety and quality of our meats," said Lamacchia. "We are currently cooperating with the USDA, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Montgomery County Health Department in Pennsylvania as part of a routine multi-state investigation into these confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 infection." The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued warnings about the targeted beef. We will continue to work with state and federal authorities as this investigation progresses, and look forward to providing our customers with the high quality products that they have come to expect.
Category: Food Safety




Nancy Drew says ...
You dropped the ball by not monitoring your suppliers. You have no one but yourself to blame and are certainly responsible. This dates back to June! Step up! And by the way, who saves groceries receipts and empty meat packaging?
08/11/2008 10:30:23 AM CDT
Purnima says ...
This is a little shocking. I buy meat fish and poultry exclusively at Whole Foods and pay a premium for that because I am assured of the quality. It is a shame that Whole Foods is not aware of the source of the products that they sell. Just relying on the vendor's assurances is not good enough, what is WF doing to make sure that the vendor is providing the quality that they claim for any product for that matter. I am really disappointed, the one place I could trust to buy the best for my family has let me down.
08/11/2008 10:44:05 AM CDT
Sarah says ...
Unfortunately, until folks who go to the trouble to raise grass-fed, humanely raised animals also treat them with dignity during the death process and stop processing them through huge, inhumane slaughterhouses, these outbreaks will continue. It is no wonder that people who care about what is put in their body don't buy store-bought meat anymore and go directly to the farm....
08/11/2008 1:11:56 PM CDT
Misc Seoane says ...
Why is ground beef not ground at the store? Fresh Market guarantees that the ground meat is ground fresh. Why was Coleman Foods using Nebraska Beef Packers? What will be done differently now that a weakness in the supply chain has been exposed.
08/11/2008 3:08:50 PM CDT
NoBS says ...
To be honest I am extremely disappointed... it shows that you guys don't check where your products come from. Having your company linked to ecoli is simply bad. Also the way you guys handle that leaves room for improvements. Instead of a half denial you need to reassure customers and outline exactly what you are doing, and more important what you are changing as a result of that so it can not happen anymore. Instead you try to spin things in your blog how great it is that you extended your recall to other states.. the fact is your system is broken. And it attacks the core value your customers believe in and pay a whole lot more for. Then seeing you guys doing absolutely nothing to hold up those values is disappointing. In that case I can buy my products just as well elsewhere without the premium. So please take this to your heart, find out whoever messed this one up - and communicate it, introduce a new program of checks and balances so this does not happen anymore and communicate that as well. And while you're at it the person handling this from a PR point of view might need some help as well. Right now what you guys need is not this rather lame WE RECALLED MORE THEN WE HAD TO - but a program that creates confidence. With what you are doing now you do less than competitors did. This is your core value you need to do better. You likely gonna remove this comment from here.. but please before you do it at least send it as an email to the people handling this mess..
08/11/2008 9:03:00 PM CDT
J Shabazz says ...
Who are you kidding? No comments since 8/8/08? BWAAAAAAAA Keep spinning like a top.
08/12/2008 6:31:44 AM CDT
Geri Modell says ...
Dear Whole Foods. I have been a fan and a loyal customer for years. I shop at your Millburn and Madison, NJ stores weekly. However, I must tell you that I was not surprised by the beef recall story. My perception is that the quality of oversight at your stores overall has declined considerably during the past year or so. I recall, when I first became a loyal shopper, being charmed and impressed by a produce person who - when I inquired where were the organic something-or-others - responded that he had not put them out for sale because they did not meet his standards. Wonderful! And yet, this summer, I have returned cherries bought at your store twice, because they didn't taste fresh! Unthinkable! PLEASE restore your meticulous scrutiny of food products, so that I can once again feel good about spending my hard-earned dollars at your stores. Thank you. Geri Modell
08/12/2008 10:51:11 AM CDT
Edda Blume says ...
Are your "Animal compassion standards" only applicable to the raising of animals i.e. they live happily on the range and than get tortured to death in the same slaughterhouses the regular meat suppliers are using? I paid three times as much for meat at whole foods than at my regular store, because I assumed your "compassion" went beyond raising the animals. After all the transport and the killing at the slaughterhouse is the most stressful and frighting part for the animals. And if these are regular slaughterhouses how do you control how they treat the animals there? Very disappointing.
08/12/2008 3:51:02 PM CDT
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05/30/2011 8:15:15 AM CDT
kelli c says ...
farms are required to use the big meat processing plants in many cases. There are a lot of regulations about killing animals for sale which favor the big plants. It is very difficult for a small farmer to find a place to butcher meat that is humane. A friend of mine has a farm and butchers/kills his own animals but does not sell them ... we just eat them amongst our friends. I saw a program on tv about a place in new jersey that does humane slaughtering and butchering but it is a small operation. Perhaps as people learn more about this there will be a movement for small butchering operations to flourish.
12/20/2011 9:41:07 AM CST