Topps no more
NEWARK, N.J. - Topps Meat Co. said a massive meat recall forced it out of business, but government scientists have yet to determine the source of the E. coli contamination that appears to have sickened 32 people who ate its hamburgers.Can a longstanding company be destroyed so quickly by pending litigation or did Topps troubles run deeper? What the US Agriculture Department said about E. coli measures is vague at best. I just think Topps may have been in financial trouble before the recall.
The investigation continued Friday after the Topps announcement, which the company said will cost 87 people their jobs. To date, the U.S. Agriculture Department has said it found inadequate E. coli safety measures at Topps' only plant, in Elizabeth.
"This is tragic for all concerned," said Topps chief operating officer Anthony D'Urso, a member of the family that founded the company in 1940.
The Topps recall — the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history — raised questions about whether the U.S. Agriculture Department should have acted quicker to encourage a recall. On Thursday, top USDA officials said they would speed warnings in the future.
Topps conceded that much of the recalled meat had already been eaten, and on Friday expressed regret that its product had been linked to illnesses. "We hope and pray for the full recovery of those individuals," D'Urso said in a statement.
Topps, which halted production Sept. 26, is not the first meat company shuttered by a recall. Hudson Foods Co. closed its plant in Columbus, Neb., after it agreed in 1997 to destroy 25 million pounds of hamburger in the largest U.S. meat recall after E. coli was found in the ground beef. The plant later reopened with new owners.
Topps faces at least two lawsuits filed since the recall, one from the family of an upstate New York girl who became ill, and one seeking class-action status on behalf of all people who bought or ate the hamburgers. The family of a Florida girl who suffered kidney failure sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is among chains that sold Topps patties. On Friday, the companies again said they will not comment on the suits.
Company spokeswoman Melissa McKay said the company has not declared bankruptcy, but said that could change.
Bottom line- Sadly people's lives were changed by the E. coli contamination at TOPS. For those who ate the bad meat, I pray they have a speedy and full recovery.
Linked to- Blue Star, Cao, Church and State, Commonsense America, Faultline,