The government is adding six more, relatively rarer, strains of E.coli to the list of banned beef. Meat mongers are balking.
E. coli O157:H7 is the most common and virulent strain. Recently scientists have identified six other strains, called the “Big Six” which are non-057 but are still making people sick. The CDC estimates the strains make over 100,000 people sick each year, a third of which is from tainted beef.
By law, it’s illegal to sell banned beef directly to the public. Instead it is sold for use in cooked products, where heating the meat to 160 degrees kills the bacteria.
“Imposing this new regulatory program on ground beef will cost tens of millions of federal and industry dollars — costs that likely will be borne by taxpayers and consumers,” the American Meat Institute said in a statement. “It is neither likely to yield a significant public health benefit nor is it good public policy.”
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, the head of food safety for the Agriculture Department, which regulates meat, told the NYT, “There’s really no inconsistency between having a strong economy and having a safe food supply.”