Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a new bill last week in hopes that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will regulate six “deadly, unchecked” strains of E. Coli, tests for which are presently not required by law.
Currently, the USDA only requires meat processing companies to test for one strain of E. coli – the most common, E. coli 0157: H7.
Since the six other strains (called non-0157 STECs) are not presently being tested for, there is a possibility that they could be present in consumer meat and poultry products.
Opposition From Meat Industry
The American Meat Institute (AMI) is opposed to Gillibrand’s bill.
“We share Senator Gillibrand’s desire to eradicate pathogenic bacteria, but we don’t believe that an act of Congress can make these bacteria disappear,” said AMI in a statement released yesterday.
The AMI claims that there is no test available to detect the six additional strains called for in the bill.
They also say that experts at USDA have said in public meetings that the food safety systems already in place work equally well for non-157 and O157 STECS.