Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Verde Farms Organic Beef

A little dismayed by the New York Times piece about how we're all going to die from eating ground beef (okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad), I decided to send an email to the producer of the organic ground beef I've been purchasing from Costco -- Verde Farms.

I was happy to get a reply within an hour.  Dana Ehrlich, the founder of Verde Farms sent me this email in response to my questions about the way they handle their ground beef production:

Hi Diana,
Thanks for your message and patronage.  I assume you are referring to the NY Times articles which has received a lot of attention. 

We take a number of steps beyond that which the large, conventional grinders and USDA requires such as:
.    Food safety audits by independent companies of our slaughtering and processing facilities
.    HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) plans to identify high risk areas
.    No bench trim used from the grinding facility
.    Slow line speeds at the slaughterhouse in Australia and US which reduces risk of fecal contamination
.    Majority of beef is free-range which minimizes fecal contamination on the hide and moving to 100% free-range, grass-fed cattle
.    No organ meats, no old dairy cows, no reconstitution, no fine textured meat or rendering, etc.only meat from healthy animals
.    Require Certificate of Analysis for negative E Coli 0157:H7 for all incoming raw material
.    First production of the day after nightly sanitation
.    Test and hold of finished product for E Coli 0157:H7, generic E Coli, aerobic plate counts, and coliforms

A good customer is an educated customer.let me know if you have any additional questions that I would be happy to answer. 

Thanks, Dana

I still have a few questions for Mr. Ehrlich.  For instance, does requiring a certificate of analysis for negative E Coli for all incoming raw material mean that they test the incoming beef themselves?  But, I suppose their handling seems better than most places.

In the meantime, I'll stick to whole cuts of beef and other types of meat.  And I suggest everyone be very careful with their handling of food in their kitchens.


  1. Before you start celebrating, I too was curious about Costco and E coli, since they had a recall due to E coli in May of this year. I emailed them and here is the response I got:

    The recall for beef in May was for Verde Farms organic beef, not the Kirkland signature beef that Costco packs and sells.

    So while Verde Farms may have more stringent controls than others, they are still not perfect. As you suggest, you are probably better off sticking to whole cuts of beef, etc.

  2. Good to know. Thanks, David. I didn't even know about that recall. I probably ate it!

  3. probably wouldn't have made the pasta sauce with ground beef if i had read your post first! i always have made sure to get high quality organic ground beef because of all the mad cow articles i've read, but now i have another reason to think twice about beef!

  4. Costco provided incorrect information to David regarding the recall.

    This recall, according to the note I received from David, occured at a Costco in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Verde Farms has never sold beef to Costco in the Pacific Northwest and we have never had a single case of positive E Coli 0157:H7.

    Furthermore, the majority of our animals are grass-fed and 100% of the animals are fed a vegetarian diet. This eliminates the risk of Mad Cow Disease.

    Please email me if you have additional questions as I want to make sure the information you have is accurate.

  5. That's interesting, Dana. Thanks for clarifying. I'll look into this further. Do you get any of your beef from JBS Swift Beef? They seem to have been the problem in the Costco recall.

    David, maybe you can share your source with us. From the reports I have read, it does sound like it was products the Costco purchased from JBS and then ground and packed, not Verde Farms.