“At each stage, the E. coli sneaked through. It came in with the feces caked on the hide of at least one cow, a so-called “super-shedder” of bacteria, and persevered. The E. coli wasn’t caught on the kill floor, survived cleaning and clung on during dehiding, in which a cow’s skin is peeled away.
It reached the cutting table – a bacteria watershed, where the cow is cut into different types of beef, including “trim,” the odds and ends that become hamburger. The E. coli went undetected in the 325 grams of beef trim tested from this particular 2,000-pound batch, so it moved through. When alarms sounded, it was in stores. Continue reading