Burger King Severs Ties to Meat Supplier Linked to Tainted Beef

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Following a massive bad-beef recall, Burger King has pulled Hudson Foods’ burgers off its grills--forever, a spokesman for the fast-food chain said Saturday.

“No more Hudson Beef is in the Burger King system nor will we be buying any more Hudson Foods Inc. beef,” said David Nixon, a spokesman at Burger King’s headquarters in Miami.

The recall of 25 million pounds of hamburger processed at a Hudson Foods plant in Columbus forced menu changes and inventory overhauls across the country starting Thursday night. The plant shut down during the federal probe into E. coli contamination.

Burger King was the company’s biggest beef customer.


Hudson said the news came as a “serious disappointment” but that it was committed to removing the cloud hanging over its only raw-beef processing plant.

“While we are carefully reviewing all our options for that plant, we remain convinced that the problem was brought into the plant by an outside supplier,” the company said in a statement Saturday.

Burger King, the nation’s second-largest fast-food chain, was the most visibly affected, with 1,650 restaurants in 28 states--or one of every four Burger Kings in the United States--serving only chicken and fish for more than a day. The Whoppers had returned to most of the chain’s restaurants by Friday night.

“I think Burger King is doing the right thing in dropping Hudson Foods to make sure any meat supplier we use is flawless,” said Michael Simmonds, president of Simmonds Restaurant Management in Omaha, which owns 64 Burger King restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa.

The restaurant chain will begin advertising in selected newspapers around the country Monday in an effort to clear up confusion over whether its beef is safe.

Simmonds said it is too early to tell whether Burger King lost customers because of the recall.

Testing by Burger King, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on samples of Burger King’s recalled meat showed there was no problem, Simmonds said.

The news that Burger King had ended its business relationship with Hudson Foods came as two former employees with the meat-processing plant claimed that pressure to fill the fast-food chain’s orders led to shortcuts at the Nebraska plant. Hudson Foods denied the allegations.