US: Government to increase E. coli tests in raw beef
Posted: June 3rd, 2012 - 10:10pm
Source: New York Times
In a ruling that appeared to side with consumers, the Agriculture Department announced that it would expand testing for E. coli in raw beef trimmings beginning next week.
The department first proposed testing for the additional strains late last year, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of confirmed cases of illness caused by these strains had exceeded the number caused by E. coli O157:H7.
The testing was to start in March but was delayed after members of the industry protested. The new tests will be done on raw beef trimmings, which are used in ground beef.
“These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering food-borne illnesses,” Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, said in a statement. “We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation’s food supply.”
In a statement, Todd Allen, the vice chairman for the beef industry’s beef safety committee and past president of the Kansas Livestock Association, said the industry welcomed the additional testing because it would help ensure that the safeguards the industry has put in place are working.
“As an industry, we will continue doing all we can to raise healthy cattle and provide consumers with safe, wholesome beef,” Mr. Allen said.