In an announcement today made by the USDA, six additional strains of E. coli have been added to the list of bacteria tested in ground beef.
Currently ground beef is tested for the dangerous E. coli O157:H7, a strain so virulent only a few organisms need to be ingested to cause severe illness.
“Too often, we are caught reacting to a problem instead of preventing it. This new policy will help stop problems before they start,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
Food safety advocates praised the decision. Others in the meat industry disagree, stating their isn’t science to support the new standards.
“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. It is neither likely to yield a significant public health benefit nor is it good public policy,” industry group the American Meat Institute said.
The “Big Six” E. coli strains are rare, and until recently, not easily detectable.
The regulations will go into effect March 5.