Dave Sjeklocha is right on (“Industry bugged by E. coli,” August, page 10). Despite the millions that have been spent on research, beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 is still reaching consumers and making them seriously ill. In fact, in early August, Valley Meat Co., a Modesto, CA establishment, recalled 1 million lbs. of frozen ground beef patties and bulk ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. As of Aug. 6, a total of seven illnesses had been reported.

What makes this latest recall and the hundreds before it so doubly tragic is that we already have the technology to control E. coli. Unfortunately, most beef processors still don’t use it.

Sjeklocha’s inability to even name irradiation as a solution is symptomatic of a collective denial. Congratulations are due to the visionary companies – Schwan’s, Omaha Steaks and Wegman’s – that are successfully marketing irradiated ground beef. Until everyone follows their lead, there will be more sick kids, hospital bills, lawsuits and bankruptcies.
Harry F. Hull, M.D.
Saint Paul, MN

Dave Sjeklocha, DVM, responds:
The writer makes an excellent point. From my viewpoint, irradiation makes a great deal of sense. The typical beef consumer, however, hears the word “irradiation” and it conjures up some less-than-desirable images. Frankly, our editorial group did have a short discussion about whether irradiation should be included. When I made the final decision to not include it, I hoped that an astute reader (or readers) would see the omission. I appreciate Dr. Hull’s comments and willingness to bring this up.

Dave Sjeklocha, DVM
Haskell County Animal Hospital, Sublette, KS