The E.coli 0157 bacterium is responsible for many of the tragic food poisonings that have occurred at fast-food restaurants in the past. The bacterium, often found inside the intestines of cattle, can contaminate meat that is improperly processed at slaughterhouses. Illness usually results from eating undercooked and contaminated ground beef. Industry advocates say one reason for this illness is that consumers are not handling and cooking beef properly. Critics say the production line speed at slaughterhouses, and the unwillingness to slow it down, are mostly to blame. Microbial contamination is monitored and controlled at several places along the production line by a process called the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system (HACCP). These checkpoints test and compare the amount of microbial contamination in random samples of beef on the processing line to levels that are considered acceptable and safe. Health advocates say meat-processing facilities allow too many microorganisms in our food supply. The Agriculture Department wants to list 6 additional strains of E.coli as adulterants, thus requiring the meat industry to test for them and recall any products contaminated with those strains. These “Big Six” E.coli strains are worrisome because they can cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which among other things, can lead acute kidney failure in children. The meat industry says additional regulation is premature, unnecessary and that too little is known about these six strains of E. coli to justify new testing and recall requirements. The announcement of this rule change has been repeatedly delayed and advocates are worried that industry groups could persuade this administration, or a future one, to water-down or repeal the proposed “Big Six” rule. They wish to pass it into law.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.2303 - Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act of 2015

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Poll Opening Date
April 9, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 15, 2020

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