Stolen trailer found in Dallas; meat still missing

| 1/3/2008

A refrigerated trailer reported stolen from the American Fresh Foods parking lot in Fort Worth, TX, has been found; however, more than 80 percent of the trailer’s 14, 800 pounds of ground meat products – including some that tested positive for E.coli bacteria – are still missing.

Lt. Dean Sullivan, public information officer for the Fort Worth Police Department, told Land Line on Wednesday, Jan. 2, he received confirmation by “teletype” from the Dallas Police Department that the stolen trailer had been located sometime over the weekend, but at the time there were no suspects and no arrests have been made in the case.

“We have received notice from the Dallas Police Department that they recovered the stolen (trailer),” he said. “We also heard that as much as 80 percent of the meat was missing when the load was found.”

Sullivan said the criminal investigation will most likely be turned over to the Dallas Police Department because that department recovered the stolen trailer. He also said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which jointly issued a public health alert with American Fresh Foods, will also be involved in the ongoing investigation.

The focus now is on protecting consumers who may have been “persuaded to buy beef products under questionable circumstances” like roadside stands or in parking lots, according to Agi Schafer, spokeswoman for American Fresh Foods.

Schafer said the company is urging consumers who think they might have purchased some of the meat products to call the consumer hotline number at 1-800-724-1136 for instructions on what to do with the beef products.

“Obviously, at this point we’re concerned most about consumers who may have accidentally purchased this product,” Schafer told Land Line on Thursday, Jan 3. “Even though we think the beef will be fine, we just want to take every precaution to make sure that they are safe. And if anyone has any questions about the product that they’ve purchased, they can call the 1-800 line and we can help them either replace the product, assist them in identifying the product, or answer their questions and concerns.”

Click here for the list of consumer products subject to this alert. American Fresh meat products sold “in store” through normal retail chains, like grocery stores, have not been included in the public health alert.

Schafer said the company’s main concern is making sure they get their message out about the product to ensure their consumers are safe.

“The company plans to work with investigators to find out who has been selling the product and to find it and make sure people are safe and don’t eat it,” she said.

Carol Blake, acting director of the USDA’s Congressional and Public Affairs office, said the agency will be following up with the Fort Worth Police Department first before deciding on its next move.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer