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USDA Issues New Meat Guidelines After Increased Recalls

person looking at package of raw meat in supermarket

From Tyson Foods to Pilgrim’s Pride, there have been well over 25 major recalls issued for meat and poultry products since the beginning of 2018 alone. This dramatic increase in consumer safety complaints has prompted the USDA to issue a new set of safety guidelines, which outlines the new official protocol for handling faulty products.

At Cutt, Kendell & Olson, our defective food product attorneys can help you seek compensation if you’ve been hurt after ingesting a contaminated poultry, sausage, or meat item. In this post, we’ll touch on the reasons behind all the recent recalls — and discuss how you can pursue proper legal action in the event of a foodborne illness or injury.

Why the Sudden Increase in Meat Product Recalls?

Whether it was the repeated e. Coli outbreaks linked to Romaine lettuce or the Salmonella scare caused by Honey Smacks cereal, the news was flooded with food product recalls throughout 2018, and not just for meat and poultry products. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 22 total foodborne illness outbreaks were reported in 2018: The highest number reached in more than 10 years.

Although the reasons behind each of these recalls varied, experts agree that there are two main factors behind the increasing food safety complaints: Greater public awareness and access to information, and increased machine automation during assembly. Because officials are better able to link diseases to contamination sources now, the news is reporting more accurately on the cause of foodborne illnesses — which in turn has led to greater demand for recalls.

In the meat industry, increasing automation has been the source of most recall woes, especially through the early months of 2019. As fewer human beings are required on the conveyor belts and packaging floors, machine parts and other contaminants are making their way into our meat products with alarming frequency. Consumer advocates say that automation is the main reason behind the glass fragments recently found in Boston Market barbecue pork products, or the blue plastic found in Agri Beef ground beef products.

The Consequences of Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illnesses affect up to 48 million Americans every year, or nearly 1 out of 6 people. While many instances of food poisoning are minor and do not result in long-term injuries, others can cause significant suffering, chronic health problems, and even death. Those with weakened or vulnerable immune systems (including children and the elderly) face particularly high risks from dangers like e. Coli and harmful toxins.

Here are some of the most serious symptoms and complications you may develop after a foodborne illness:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
  • Acute renal failure
  • Reactive arthritis
  • High blood pressure

How to Seek Appropriate Legal Action

In response to growing meat product recalls, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently shared new official guidelines intended to help the meat manufacturers and retailers identify contaminated products. When notified of an “adulterated” or misbranded meat product, the meat company is now required to notify the Food Safety and Inspection Service within 24 hours, even on weekends or non-business days.

If you’ve noticed a strange contaminant in your meat or experienced severe illness symptoms after eating, it’s important to let the manufacturer know about your complaint, so that they can work with FSIS to correct the problem as needed. You should also consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible, especially when you became severely ill or injured as a result of the contamination. Although recall efforts may help others avoid the same illness, it’s important to ensure that you have the compensation you need to cover medical costs, lost wages, and any other side effects.

Do you need to speak with a product liability lawyer? Contact Cutt, Kendell & Olson today at (801) 901-3470 for a free consultation in Salt Lake City.

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