Saturday, September 4, 2010

Need for Regulation: eColi Outbreak in U.S. -- Be Sure to Thoroughly Cook Your Meat!

E. Coli Outbreak Puts Focus On Meat Oversight
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The first known U.S. outbreak linked to a rare strain of E. coli in ground beef is prompting a fresh look at tougher regulations to protect the nation's meat supply. Three people in Maine and New York became ill this summer after eating ground beef traced back to a Cargill plant in Wyalusing, Pa. Cargill Meat Solutions, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., recalled about 8,500 pounds of ground beef on Saturday, and regulators warned consumers to throw out frozen meat purchased at BJ's Wholesale Clubs in eight eastern states. The ground beef had a use-by-or-freeze-by date of July 1.

The New York Times first reported the USDA interest in federal oversight of other strains of E. coli following the Cargill recall. The federal government currently requires meat plants to test for the most virulent strain of E. coli, O157:H7, which causes an estimated 70,000 illnesses a year. They don't have to test for six other less common strains of E. coli, including the O26 version that sickened those involved the Cargill recall.

Consumers can avoid getting infected from tainted meat by cooking it thoroughly and using a meat thermometer to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

Note: Cargill is a Global Company which has been subject to numerous criticisms over a number of topics including environmental issues, contamination and humans rights abuses. Further, as a private company, Cargill is not required to release the same amount of information as a publicly-traded company and, as a business practice, keeps a relatively low profile, creating suspicion.

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