Federal team begins hamburger plant probe
Inspectors search for source
August 18, 1997
of E. coli that led to recall
Web posted at: 1:13 p.m. EDT (1713 GMT)
COLUMBUS, Nebraska (CNN) -- A federal team began inspecting
the Hudson Foods processing plant here Monday, trying to
determine what caused an outbreak of E. coli bacteria that
led to a massive recall of hamburger patties.
Tests at the plant will continue for 15 work shifts, said
U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary Cathy Woteki.
The department last week announced the recall of 1.2 million
pounds of ground-beef patties processed at Hudson's Columbus,
Nebraska, facility on June 4, June 5 and June 9.
Sixteen people reportedly became ill from eating the patties.
Contamination from outside source?
Inspectors said they would look into the possibility that the
contamination was brought into the hamburger processing
facility from an outside source.
"It more than likely may have come in on some raw
ingredients," said USDA inspector Jesse Majkowski as he and
two government inspection teams prepared to enter the plant
on Monday. "More than likely that is where the contamination
could have occurred."
However, Majkowski said if the plant was not following all
sanitation procedures, that could have contributed to the
spread of the E. coli contamination.
He said inspectors will be looking at the plants' processing
procedures and tracing supplies to their source.
Majkowski said it probably would be at least two weeks before
the inspection team completed its work and issued a report.
Hudson Foods has said it will cooperate fully with the
"Our interest lies in learning the facts, determining the
cause and in protecting the public," said James T. Hudson,
chairman of Rogers, Arkansas-based Hudson Foods Inc.
Hudson said his company will do its own "full and aggressive"
investigation to determine the source of the contamination.
He declined to identify the company's main sources for beef
but said the Nebraska plant was not processing meat from
sources outside the United States in early June.