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:
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.
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.