Topps Meat Company
- For the company that manufactures candy and collectibles, see The Topps Company, Inc..
(Topps Meat Company LLC
) was a privately owned family company
founded in 1940 by Benjamin Sachs in Manhattan
, New York
. The company later relocated to Elizabeth, New Jersey
. The company produced and distributed frozen ground beef patties and other meat products processed at its 3,000-square-foot plant in Elizabeth and posted about $8.8 million a year in sales, according to information reported by Dun & Bradstreet. In 2003, the company was purchased by Strategic Investment and Holdings
, an investment firm based in Buffalo, New York
and by 2007 it was "one of the country’s largest manufacturers of frozen hamburgers." In 2007 the company ceased operations following H7
(E. coli) contamination of products and the ensuing recall.
According to the New York Times
- "Topps opened in 1940 in Manhattan. The founder, Benjamin Sachs, later sold the company to his son, Steven Sachs, according to Ann Sachs, the founder’s former daughter-in-law. A few years before the company moved to New Jersey, Joseph D’Urso became vice president. After Mr. D’Urso died in 2003, the company was bought by Strategic Investment and Holdings"
- 1940 - Founded
- 2003 - Purchased by Strategic Investment and Holdings
- USDA found that the plant had received meat tainted with E. coli
- Topps settled a $1.7 million accidental arm amputation lawsuit
- Company sued after consumer became ill from eating a Topps hamburger.
- July 5 - first illness linked to recall
- July 8 - second illness case
- September 7 - USDA's first positive test results for E. coli contamination
- September 25 - initial recall of 331,582 pounds of frozen hamburger patties
- September 29 - with additional evidence of "inadequate sanitation and process controls" and 25 illnesses under investigation in eight states, the USDA expanded the recall to a total of 21.7 million pounds of Topps beef.
- October 4 - class-action lawsuit filed
- October 4 - USDA's "notice of intended enforcement"
- October 5 - Topps Meat ceases operations
2007 meat recall
21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef
products produced between September 25
, and September 25
by the Topps Meat Company were recalled in September 2007 due to H7
contamination concerns. At the time, this was the the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history, after Hudson Foods Company
's recall of 25 million pounds of ground beef in 1997. Product samples subsequently tested positive for contamination with E. coli.
The first reported case of illness linked to the contamination occurred on July 5
On October 4, 2007 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Topps Meat over the contaminated meat and its consequences.
Also on October 4, 2007, the USDA served Topps Meat with a "notice of intended enforcement" (which is a move just short of suspending the rest of the company’s meat production) because of "inadequate process controls" also in the company’s non-ground beef production processes. On October 5, 2007, Topps Meat ceased operations; 77 workers were laid off while about 10 others remained employed to assist the USDA's investigation.
"In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large," Anthony D'Urso, chief operating officer, said in a statement.
USDA's first positive test results for E. coli contamination came back September 7, 2007, but they waited for confirming tests before ordering a recall 18 days later. Criticism of that 18-day delay in seeking the recall of millions of pounds of tainted Topps Meat ground beef caused the USDA to promise to speed up warnings about contaminated meat in the future.
As of October 7, 2007 29 people in eight states have fallen ill after consuming hamburgers made by Topps Meat Co.
Sources and notes