USDA To Crack Down on Testing of Meats for E. coli
Source of Article:† http://www.attorneyatlaw.com/2009/08/usda-to-crack-down-on-testing-of-meats-for-e-coli/
The U.S. Agriculture Department is going to boost efforts to test steaks and other cuts of meat used to produce ground beef for the presence of a strain of E. coli bacteria, a leading cause of potentially deadly food poisoning.
The agency is going to release new guidance and rules for meat inspectors to start testing what is called bench trim for E. coli 0157:H7, a practice which has not been done in the past, officials said. The scraps of steaks and other choice meats are often ground up into ground beef, but may carry the potentially deadly strain of bacteria.
E. coli can cause severe, even deadly, dehydration and diarrhea particularly in young children, the frail and elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. As many as 76 million Americans suffer a foodborne illness, including E. coli food poisoning, each year. About 5,000 of those infected die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Outbreaks of E. coli found in ground beef and other meat products have prompted recent recalls of the foods to reduce the risks of infection to consumers who eat the tainted meat.
Just last month, an Illinois beef processor recalled more than 200 pounds of ground beef after it was feared that the meat might have been tainted with E. coli. Lettuce, peppers, peanuts, and other foods have been recalled since 2006 due to concerns about E. coli contamination.
President Barack Obama recently called for an increase in testing of food manufacturing facilities to prevent outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, and other foodborne bacteria. Since taking office earlier this year, the Obama Administration has repeatedly said it wants to update and improve the system in place to protect the nationís food supply.
The Food and Drug Administration also has said it will issue new inspection guidelines to growers and food producers of leafy greens, tomatoes, and melons in an effort to reduce E. coli outbreaks in those foods. The guidelines will offer recommendations on how to prevent microbial contamination from when tomatoes, melons, and leafy greens are grown and harvested through processing, shipping and consumption, the FDA said.
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