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E. Coli Legislation Under Fire From AMI

04 June 2010

US - A US meat industry lobby group has hit out at new legislation introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to tackle the problems of E.coli contamination in food.

The American Meat Institute says that while sharing the desire to eradicate e.coli, they are uncertain that the legislation will be effective.

“We share Sen. Gillibrand’s desire to eradicate pathogenic bacteria, but we don’t believe that an act of Congress can make these bacteria disappear," says the AMI statement.

"We also are puzzled by the fact that this bill is being introduced at a time when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is tracking an outbreak of E. coli O145 (one of the strains in the bill) associated with romaine lettuce, yet the bill would only declare the pathogen an adulterant when found on meat. It is even more interesting to consider that no confirmed outbreak of any of the six strains in her bill has ever been associated with a meat product.

"At this point, there is no test available to detect the six additional strains included in the bill. In addition, experts at USDA have said in public meetings that the food safety systems we have in place work equally well for non-157 and O157 STECS. These systems have reduced E. coli O157:H7 on raw ground beef by 63 percent since 2000 and have helped us achieve our Health People 2010 goal for reducing these infections.

"We are concerned that food safety resources in the private sector and the public sector are not infinite. It’s important to invest in technologies that will provide meaningful food safety benefits.

"We do not believe that declaring non-O157 STECS to be adulterants will enhance the food safety system, and we think that application of such a policy could consume resources that could be better spent elsewhere to achieve meaningful food safety progress."

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