The recalled ground beef, which was sold to 342 consumers, was a mix of meat from one California Costco plant and beef trimmings from 16 other non-Costco plants. Mixing the trimmings — essentially fat cuttings from steak and roasts called “bench trim” — with higher quality ground beef is common in hamburger production.
The meat in question originated from high-grade ground beef from a Costco plant in Tracy, Calif., that was mixed with bench trim prepared at the Coon Rapids store.
The steaks and roasts that were the source of the bench trim may have originated from as many as 16 USDA-inspected meat production plants. Costco is “pretty confident” bench trim is the problem’s source, based on what state regulators have concluded, Wilson said.
Fred Pritzker, a Minneapolis attorney who specializes in food safety cases, said bench trim is basically used to augment fat levels in hamburger.
But because it’s often ultimately sourced from several meat processing plants, it’s difficult to track where an E. coli bug originated. “We see this all the time,” he said.