Jan 27th 2011 at 8:30AM
Recalls Cause Canned Corned Beef Shortage
Canned corned beef -- a staple of quick, cheap meals -- is in short supply, and retailers including Walmart are pointing to a series of recalls last year as the cause for the product not being on store shelves.
The mystery meat inside typically originates from Brazil, where a major processor has been banned from exporting to the U.S. and whose meat was the subject of the recalls. The result has been empty store shelves and a waiting list on Amazon.com, for example, to order the shelf-stable cooked meat.
Retailers and manufacturers weren't particularly keen on discussing the shortage, but Walmart -- the nation's largest grocer - confirmed the problem to Consumer Ally.
"Due to the recent recall of canned corned beef, there has been an industry-wide shortage," Walmart said in a statement to Consumer Ally. "We are working closely with suppliers to replenish shelves as soon as possible."
Kathy Becker went to five stores in Virginia in her futile search for the canned corn beef to make a hearty winter stew. She also makes a casserole that has become a family favorite. When she couldn't find any, she turned to Consumer Ally for answers.
Dollar General Senior Director of Corporate Communications Tawn Earnest said the company continues to monitor supplies of the canned, fully cooked meat.
More than 200 tons of cooked beef products were recalled in three connected recalls last year by Sampco Inc. The Chicago meat company imported the beef from a Brazilian processor barred from shipping to the United States after high levels of the animal drug Ivermectin was found in its products. Ivermectin is used to treat parasites in animals, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Sampco provided beef for such products as Libby Corned Beef, Brushy Creek Shredded Beef and Kroger Corned Beef.
A trade group, food producers and retailers contacted for this story kept their lips as tightly sealed as the cans themselves over the corned beef shortage. Hormel and Con Agra -- the parent company of Libby's -- didn't respond to requests for comment. Neither did Kroger or Wegmans.
Food Lion denied there was an issue and suggested contacting other grocers.
"We do not have any type of problems as you described with corned beef," said Food Lion spokesman Benny Smith.
Industry trade group Corned Beef Processors Association referred all questions to the USDA's information on the processed beef recalls and said it doesn't represent the companies involved in the recalls.