The latest E. coli outbreak, which toppled Topps Meat and led to millions of recalled burgers, has stumped health agents. Muckrakers blame feedlots and abattoirs, saying bad animal diets increase infections when the meat mingles with innards, but others aren't so worried: "The reality is if you cook the meat you’ll never have a problem," says one industry consultant.
Yet health officials are puzzled, saying they can't spot E. coli's entry point into Topps because the company mingled so much meat. "We have a systemic problem here starting in the feedlots," says Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. "Putting Topps out of business isn't going to solve that fundamental problem.” A Topps rep shut that door, refusing to show a list of abattoirs that supplied meat for grinding.