Dec 04, 2006

Group Angered Over Wastewater Contaminated Beef

A non-profit consumer group is angry that beef inadvertently sprayed with wastewater entered the food supply. Workers at Swift & Company accidentally spilled the wastewater onto 493 carcasses before cleaning and treating the meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Steven Cohen told the Dow Jones Newswire that normally the meat would have been considered contaminated, but officials from Swift & Company convinced government inspectors that they could make the beef safe.

The company cut off the external surfaces that had come into contact with wastewater, and treated the beef before testing it for bacteria.

Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer group, expressed the opinion that no amount of treatment could be considered sufficient. The wastewater sprayed on the carcasses contained dirt from the kill floor, which probably included fecal mater.

The wastewater was sprayed as a result of a defective backflow mechanism. USDA inspectors watched the treatment of the meat and deemed it okay for human consumption.

Felicia Nestor, a spokeswoman for Food & Water Watch, told the Dow Jones Newswire that the group is not satisfied with the USDA’s response.