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 Sports

This week’s best sports shots

llws

Some of the best plays and biggest newsmakers from the week in sports.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP_568873619964

A look back at some of this week's biggest newsmakers and the headlines you may have missed.

in National

How low will gas go?

19-overlay12

AAA predicts gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon by the end of the year.

in National

Buzz Aldrin wants to colonize Mars

12-overlay17

The second man to walk on the moon is pushing for a Mars settlement by 2040.

in National

U.S. vaccination rates high, but pockets of unvaccinated pose risk

vaccine

The vast majority of U.S. kindergarten-age children are vaccinated against preventable diseases but sizable pockets of unprotected children still exist, posing a public health threat, according to a government study.