USDA targets E. coli in food supply

Sept. 13, 2011 at 12:34 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is taking action to protect consumers from possible E. coli contamination of the nation's food supply.

The USDA said six additional serogroups of pathogenic E. coli will be declared adulterants if found in raw ground beef, its components and tenderized steaks, and their sale to consumers will be prohibited.

The department's Food Safety and Inspection Service will launch a testing program to detect these pathogens and prevent them from reaching consumers, a USDA release said Tuesday.

"The Obama administration is committed to protecting our food supply and preventing illnesses before they happen," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Today's announcement does exactly that by targeting and eliminating contaminated products from the market.

"Too often, we are caught reacting to a problem instead of preventing it. This new policy will help stop problems before they start."

The USDA said it would begin testing for the six and enforcing the new policy on March 5, 2012.

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