Whole Foods Unaffected by Beef Recall

Whole Foods

The recent recall of 4000 pounds of distributed beef had reportedly found its way to 34 Whole Foods markets last week. The beef recall took place Thursday after possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is commonly known as mad cow disease. However, Whole Foods now reports that the beef distributed to their stores were unaffected.

The contamination was reportedly found in bone-in rib-eye cuts of meat that were processed at Fruitland American Meat in Jackson, Missouri. The shipment reportedly arrived at the Whole Foods distribution center in Connecticut, where the meats were then distributed to 34 Whole Foods stores in the northeast region of the country. A restaurant in New York City, and a restaurant in Kansas City Missouri were also shipped the contaminated beef.

This past Friday the Whole Foods chain issued a statement that the affected cattle associated with the recall are all too young to coincide with the beef purchased by the Whole Foods chain. Reportedly, each of the 39 cows affected were all under 30 months old.

Mad cow disease is derived from tissue found in the cattle’s nervous system. This tissue is usually removed from the cattle to render it BSE safe. The 39 cows in question are believed to have not had the dangerous tissue removed during processing. As well, the cows were all beyond 30 months old, hence Whole Foods reports that their 34 stores remain unaffected by the beef recall.

BSE or mad cow disease affects the central nervous system of the affected adult cattle. It is degenerative, slowly progressive, and fatal. BSE is also transmissible which spawns safety measures with regard to human consumption.

The version of mad cow disease that is found in humans is known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is marked by a variety of symptoms, which includes rapid mental deterioration that takes place usually within a few months after consumption. The initial symptoms include anxiety, depression, impaired thinking, personality changes, insomnia, difficulty speaking, memory loss, uncontrollable jerking movements, difficulty swallowing, and blurred vision.

Mental symptoms worsen as the disease progresses. Once infected most humans fall into a coma. Causes of death are usually heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, and other infections. The disease is fatal, and it takes about seven months for the disease to run its course, but humans have been known to live up to two years following a diagnosis.

In rare cases psychiatric symptoms may be more prominent in the beginning. Later in the illness symptoms of dementia may set in, which would be the inability to think, remember or reason. These particular set of symptoms tend to affect younger people, with a typical duration of 12 to 14 months, which is longer than classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

John Mackey is the CEO and co-founder the popular Whole Foods chain which features a wide variety of specialty and organic food products. Founded in 1978, it went from one Austin, Texas store to more than 340 stores to date. Whole Foods is a fortune 300 company widely recognized for its organic meats department. The chain asserts that their 34 stores remain unaffected by last weeks the beef recall.

By Janet Walters Levite

LA Times
Mayo Clinic
Whole Foods.com