News

U.S. sets new ground beef procedures to avoid E. coli

U.S. sets new ground beef procedures to avoid E. coli

GROUND BEEF: USDA said "dozens more" ground beef recalls could occur once the new protections are fully in place, which is expected to be in mid-December. Photo: clipart.com

By Ros Krasny

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday announced new procedures for detecting and removing unsafe ground beef from grocery stores and suppliers as part of efforts to prevent potentially deadly illnesses caused by contaminated meat.

The move “will allow the agency to trace contaminated ground beef back to its source more quickly, remove it from commerce, and find the root cause of the incident to prevent it from recurring,” said USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Under its new procedures, FSIS will conduct immediate investigations of businesses whose ground beef tests positive for E. coli O157:H7 during initial testing, and at suppliers that provided source materials.

In the past, FSIS began investigations at the grinding facility only after a presumptive positive test result was confirmed, which can take two days. Tracing E. Coli outbreaks back to their source could have taken 30 days, USDA added.

“A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” said Brian Ronholm, USDA’s deputy under secretary for food safety.

The announcement comes a month after USDA proposed to require all makers of raw ground beef products to keep more detailed records, making it easier for retailers to trace the sources of their supplies.

The E. coli O157:H7 strain can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. In young children and the elderly a life-threatening form of kidney failure can develop. Exposure is linked to contaminated water or food, including raw vegetables and unpasteurized milk as well as undercooked ground beef.

USDA said “dozens more” ground beef recalls could occur once the new protections are fully in place, which is expected to be in mid-December.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Recent Headlines

in National

Staples investigating possible data breach

Fresh
staples

The office supply giant is the latest U.S. retailer to become a possible victim of a cyberattack.

in National

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

Fresh
hannahgraham

Authorities have brought additional charges against the man accused of abducting an 18-year-old Virginia college student Hannah Graham.

in Sports

Tuesday’s Sports Minute

Fresh
worldseries

In addition to the Steelers’ big win and the sentencing of Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius, here is a look…

in Sports

McIlroy turns focus to legal battle

Fresh
mcilroy

Rory McIlroy has pulled out of two events to focus on his legal battle with his former management company.

in Sports

Steelers’ quick points silence fans, help them beat Texans

Fresh
steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed less than three minutes to score 24 unanswered points to help them top the Houston Texans.