In case you didn’t notice, the smell emanating from Greeley has not been as potent over the last four days.
The Swift and Co. meat plant was shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday after repeated cases of fecal contamination on carcasses. The USDA had noted feces on meat 19 times at the plant, formerly called the ConAgra Beef Plant, since Aug. 20. Three of these violations occurred during the week before shutdown.
Feces are a common breeding ground for E.coli bacteria, which can be deadly to humans if not treated. ConAgra had problems with the E.coli in its meat in July, spurring a recall of 18.6 million pounds of meat, the second-largest recall ever.
USDA has taken the right step in shutting down the plant and strictly regulating meat plants. However, they conveniently shut down the plant over a planned three-day holiday weekend for the Swift plant, and the USDA has not acted at all despite 19 violations since August.
The Denver Post quoted a former USDA inspector as saying “the agency never pulled the plug because of fecal problems” on a 1999 shutdown of the Excel Co. plant in Fort Morgan, and that “it wasn’t until the meat got into commerce that the hammer fell.” Gary Dahl, the president of the meat inspector’s union in Colorado, told the newspaper they also have no cut-and-dry regulation on when to shut down over fecal problems, just repeated violations.
The USDA needs to shut down plants after one fecal violation, period. E.coli is a serious problem and these plants should have strict regulations on making sure our meat is feces-free. It should not get to the point that companies have to recall meat because people are getting sick and dying from eating a hamburger.
And quite frankly, we don’t want to eat sh*t – literally.