Cargill has ‘recalled’ 36 million pounds of Turkey. But what does that mean? Factoring in the number of vegetarians, people allergic, and people that just don’t like Turkey, its about a ‘quarter pounder’ Turkey burger each for the rest of us living in the US.

I can hardly wait to be asked at the fast food outlet, with or without, mayo, ketchup or salmonella?

Food recalls are hardly a new thing, in fact it seems that almost everyday there is one. In fact there are more than one a day, but many are regionalized and small, you have to have a really serious issue to excite the national news.

For months now, my co-hosts on The Food Revolution Papers and Surviving The 21st Century, Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks have been talking about food recalls. Some are big, some are small, but what does it really mean?

For the consumer, (unless you got the bad package), it means almost nothing. If you take the product back to the store you will get a refund. If you ate it, and survived, hey you are doing great. The recall was just more Government BS!

The huge unknown number is who ate it, didn’t feel well and took the day off work?

The only real data is from the CDC, how many people saw a doctor, how many people ended up in hospital, and how many people died. Lets say that you are one of the unfortunate people that ends up in hospital. Who pays? Your Insurance Company, right? Well millions of people in this country have no health coverage. So then who pays?

The current Cargill tainted Turkey situation is a serious one. This is hardly the first time that Cargill has been to the dance and it will not be the last. A major recall can have dire circumstances on a companies bottom line, right?

36 million pounds of junk turkey probably equates to well over $100 million dollars of direct and indirect problems.

But what does a recall mean?

This is where it all gets interesting. I spent some time doing some research on the subject. My findings did not leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. The Guardians of our food system, the FDA and USDA, rarely mandate a recall. It is a voluntary process by the company involved. The time between a problem being spotted and the time a recall is actually performed can be months. Problems with Cargill Turkey was spotted in March or April (depending on who you believe), yet it was August that the alarm was raised. The cynic in me says ‘OK, before you start the alert, make sure that most of the product has been consumed first.

This got me thinking. So even if a company is late in issuing a recall, what do they do with the recalled product?

The average guy in the street, myself included, had always assumed that it was destroyed. It seems like a reasonable assumption, don’t you think?

Well it turns out that I was not quite right.

I decided to check on a rather old recall. In 2010 the Wright County Egg company, and Hillandale Farms had over half a billion eggs recalled. The news story is easy to find, two minutes on Google, and you have a veritable omelet on the subject.

Wright County Egg have conveniently removed themselves from the map. I wonder why? I am sure that the facility is still in operation, just under a new name.

Hillandale Farms Of Iowa Inc was also named in Egg-Gate, they are the smaller company and do still exist. I called them, and after talking to the ‘gate keeper’ was put through to a gentleman that at first pointed me at the PR company, but when I explained that my questions were simple, he opened up.

My question was, what happened to those half billion eggs?

The answer…. and I had heard rumors, but wanted it from the source.

If the eggs were at any point allowed to be in an unrefrigerated state, they were destroyed.  That makes great sense.

However, if the eggs were maintained in a refrigerated state, they were pasteurized and re-purposed for human consumption.

In simple terms, they were too dangerous for home use, but fine for Big Food.

It shocked me! I had other ideas.

A half billion of anything is a problem. Did they use them as ordinance in Iraq or Afghanistan? Lets face it, a half a billion eggs can scramble any city if dropped from 30,000 feet.

No, they did not use the eggs to disable the command and control structure of a despot. Instead, we are eating them!

All I can say is be careful about food recalls. All is not as it seems. The right hand says one thing, and the left hand says something very different. Will Cargill’s Turkey make it to your dinner plate?

Simon Barrett

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