Where’s the beef? Stolen trailer found in Dallas; beef still missing

| 1/11/2008

A stolen refrigerated trailer loaded with ground beef products, some of which tested positive for E. coli bacteria, is creating quite a stir in the Dallas, TX, area.

A joint effort is under way by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Dallas Environmental and Health Services Department to try to recover the approximately 14,800 pounds of ground beef products stolen on Dec. 19.

As of Friday, Jan. 11, more than 80 percent of the meat still hadn’t been recovered. Health investigators working on the case confirmed to Land Line that some Dallas residents and area restaurants have been approached by an individual attempting to sell the stolen ground beef products door-to-door.

A spokeswoman for the company that owned the meat told Land Line that the company’s focus is on protecting consumers who may have been “persuaded to buy beef products under questionable circumstances.”

“Obviously, at this point we’re concerned most about consumers who may have accidentally purchased this product,” said Agi Schafer, American Fresh Foods spokeswoman.

Schafer said a portion of the ground beef products in the trailer was “segregated” after low levels of E. coli contamination were detected in some of it. The other products in the trailer were close to their expiration date. She said she was unsure what the company’s plan was for the beef, which was being temporarily stored in the trailer.

OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz said the theft of the trailer and the health alert that followed might have been avoided by the simple use of a kingpin lock to secure the trailer.

“As with any incident that brings a company bad publicity, I’m sure the company wishes it had handled the circumstances surrounding this product very differently,” he said. “Transportation security and food safety are extremely important, and extra measures need to be in place to ensure potentially contaminated product does not accidentally enter the food supply chain.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer