A Congressional hearing about meat recalls and food safety is scheduled for this afternoon that’ll be headed by Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell. The Third District Democrat from Des Moines is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry and Boswell says it appears recalls are becoming more prevalent lately.
Boswell says when he scheduled the hearing last month, the big story was the Topps beef recall, which has been linked to 32 illnesses and involved more than 21-million pounds of ground beef. Since then, several more large recalls have been prompted by e-coli concerns and he says, "There are many questions that need to be asked." Boswell says he’s calling several speakers, including a top U-S-D-A official on food safety.
He says: "I will ask them, do they have the resources to do what they need to do, the communication and so on, to make sure that we, one, protect the consumers and also protect this industry that’s so important to agriculture and our country." Boswell says the media often jumps on recalls to help spread the word and while it may seem like recalls are becoming common, he says that has to be considered in context.
"We look at the millions and millions and millions upon millions of pounds of (meat) produced and the millions and millions and millions of people that consume, why, they look like big numbers but anytime we have a problem with e-coli or contamination we have to respond to it and do it quickly," Boswell says. An e-coli infection was suspected in last week’s death of a central Iowa middle school girl. The 14-year-old from Monroe had flu-like symptoms for two weeks and died on Friday.