Citing public concern that meat companies and federal regulators are not doing enough to make ground beef safe, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has introduced legislation that would require companies to test for a deadly E. coli strain.
The bill, the E. Coli Eradication Act of 2009, is focused on the slaughterhouse
trimmings and other meat components commonly used to make ground beef. It would require testing at the slaughterhouses and then at grinding facilities before the trimmings are mixed.
A few companies, including the retail giant Costco, already test incoming trimmings at their grinding facilities, but most of the industry relies on slaughterhouses to test their own trim. Grinders that do their own spot checks typically wait to test the finished product after the trim is mixed, which prevents identifying the source of contamination.
Photo Caption: Stephanie Smith, a 22-year-old former dance instructor, was left
partly paralyzed two years ago by E. coli that officials traced to hamburger.
Photo Credit: Ben Garvin
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