The US Department of Agriculture announced this week that it will be extending its ban of E. coli in ground beef to include six additional strains of the deadly bacteria, in order to decrease the consumer risk of foodborne illness. Prior to the new measure, it was legal to sell meat containing these types of E. coli under the premise that they would be destroyed during the cooking process, but in recent years, many people have fallen ill from eating undercooked and tainted ground beef. The most well-known strain of the bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, has been banned from ground beef since 1994, when it sickened hundreds of people and killed four children. In order to give the meat industry time to prepare for the recent initiative, the USDA will not begin enforcing the new rule until March 2012. While consumer-advocate groups are hailing the new rule, the beef industry has deemed it unnecessary and warned that prices will rise as a consequence.
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