Iotron Technology Inc.


991134 Jury to Decide Recalled Meat Case

November 9, 1999

Lincoln, NE - Two years after the largest meat recall in U.S. history, jury selection started today for a federal court trial to may determine whether Hudson Foods officials lied to cover up the extent of the tainted beef.

The charges stem from the recall of 25 million pounds of ground beef processed at the then-Hudson Foods plant in Columbus.

Hamburger produced at the plant was linked to an outbreak of E. coli contamination in July 1997 in Colorado, leading to a nationwide recall the following month.

As a result of the recall, the plant was closed and later sold to IBP Inc. of Dakota Dunes, SD.

A grand jury in December indicted Hudson, which has since been sold to Tyson Foods; Brent Wolke, who was plant manager at the time of the recall and continues to work at the plant under new management; and Michael Gregory, Hudson's director of quality control who now works for Tyson.

All three were charged with falsely telling representatives of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and USDA Office of Inspector General that the company had been able to link the tainted beef to a single lot.

Based on what the three told the USDA, officials said, the recall was limited to three days of production in the second week of August.

However, the recall was later expanded on Aug. 21, 1997, to 25 million pounds of ground beef.

Fifteen people fell ill in Colorado and one in Kentucky.

Wolke and Gregory pleaded innocent to one count of providing false information and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the two counts against them.

The company, which also pleaded innocent, could face $500,000 in fines.

The trial is expected to last three to five weeks.

The indictment was believed to be the first of its kind involving a case of E. coli contamination.

Since the recall and change in ownership, new policies at the plant are aimed at more closely monitoring and tracking production.

In addition, most meat processors no longer mix leftover meat awaiting processing from one day with meat to be processed the next day. Such a carry- over was blamed for the size of the Hudson recall.


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