Topps Meat Company recall expanded

by Tim Haas
NBC News

It began as a recall of 330-thousand pounds of frozen hamburgers, but over the weekend the Topps Meat Company expanded it to nearly 22-million pounds.

At least a 25 people in eight states have gotten sick from eating the tainted meat and experts expect that number to rise.

The recall now includes Topps frozen patties sold under a variety of brand names, with a sell-by date between September 25th, 2007 and September 25th, 2008.

Federal inspectors say they found poor safety measures at the Topps plant, but consumer advocates say it's the inspection system itself that needs an overhaul.

"We have very few inspectors on the ground, our agencies can often not mandate an actual recall, and our regulation over food safety is incredibly fragmented over many agencies, and it simply isn't an efficient process," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan of the Consumers Union.

Food recalls are getting more common, but it's this huge hamburger recall that has sparked renewed interest in reworking the food inspection system.

The beef industry says it's not necessary.

U-S-D-A officials claim our country still has the safest meat supply in the world, but after this 22 million pound recall consumer advocates say that's a claim that's getting harder to believe.