WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A virulent strain of E. coli bacteria known as O157:H7 still sickens thousands of Americans each year despite regulations, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The newspaper said that through interviews and government and corporate records it traced the path of a batch of hamburger that sickened a 22-year-old Minnesota woman in 2007 and found that regulatory safeguards meant to prevent food contamination is not what consumers have been led to believe.
The Times said the frozen hamburger the woman ate was made by the food giant Cargill, which confidential grinding logs and other company records showed was made from a mix of trimmings and a mash-like product from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay. A South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings treated them with ammonia to kill bacteria.
Using the combination of sources reportedly allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat. Despite the low-grade ingredients, Cargill, like most meat companies, relies on suppliers to check for bacteria.
The Times said its tests indicated federal safe handling instructions for hamburger are not enough to prevent the O157:H7 strain from spreading in the kitchen.