USDA to Expand E. Coli Ban


Here's a fun fact: Of the E. coli strains known to have sickened human beings, the USDA bans only the sale of ground beef and other "non-intact raw beef" products contaminated with one of the strains, the most famous, 0157.

That will change beginning in March of next year, the USDA announced this week:
As a result of today's action, if the E. coli serogroups O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145 are found in raw ground beef or its precursors, those products will be prohibited from entering commerce. Like E.coli O157:H7, these serogroups can cause severe illness and even death, and young children and the elderly are at highest risk.
According to Reuters, the American Meat Institute opposes the new regulations as a burden on the industry, consumers and taxpayers.

The number of food contaminants that the USDA does not consider "adulterants" (to use the technical term) might surprise you. As Tom Philpott of Mother Jones points out, the strain of salmonella that struck Cargill's ground turkey for the second time this week is not an adulterant.

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