Whole Foods said yesterday that it is inspecting all shipments of meat and tightening its guidelines for suppliers following last week’s recall of two months’ worth of ground beef that potentially was contaminated with E. coli.

The moves were part of the company’s efforts to restore confidence in its products. The upscale grocer rose from a single store in Austin to a $6.6 billion company over the past three decades by betting on a singular corporate philosophy and business strategy: Shoppers are willing to pay more for natural and organic products. And with those high prices come high expectations.

“We’re quite upset as well. This is not how we have our protocol set up with our producers,” said Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods global vice president for quality standards. “We already have very tight standards.”

Whole Foods recalled ground beef on Friday that was sold between June 2 and August 6 after seven people in Massachusetts and two in Pennsylvania who shopped at its stores were infected by E. coli…

…Ronnie Cummins, national director of the advocacy group Organic Consumers Association, said he is not overly concerned by the Whole Foods recall because it was an isolated incident. The company said it believes this is its first ground beef recall due to E.coli.

“I must say I’m not surprised to see a single incident,” Cummins said. “If it became a regular occurrence like it is with conventional beef, I think we’d be extremely concerned.”…

Full Story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081102934_2.html