Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially
deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota
came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.
The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger
business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the
industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were
particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the
company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as
Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the companys
ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli to an undetectable level.
They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine
testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef
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