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The USDA 'E. coli Loophole' in Ground Beef: Much Ado About Nothing
Date:11/28/2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over the past few weeks there has been a flurry of articles about a seemingly diabolical plan between the meat industry and the USDA that permits presumptively positive ground beef and beef trimmings that have failed to be "non-negative" for E. coli O157:H7 (http://www.ehagroup.com/epidemiology/illnesses/e-coli-O157-H7.asp) to be sent for further processing -- which includes cooking to the thermal death stage for all pathogens.

"It is inconceivable to me how this story has gotten as much traction as it has," says Melvin N. Kramer, Ph.D., M.P.H., president of a prominent public health consulting group (http://www.ehagroup.com/publichealth/).

According to Dr. Kramer, the focus of all food safety programs and educational campaigns regarding raw proteinaceous foods (poultry, beef, pork and even fish and shellfish) is proper cooking. Cooking to a thermal death level will kill all harmful or pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and other pathogens that may be present in these raw foods of animal origin that were never intended to be consumed raw or undercooked.

Therefore, permitting a company that suspects or, in fact, knows that a lot of ground beef or beef trimmings has or may contain E. coli O157:H7 to be able to sell it with appropriate security (at a significant discount) to a different segment of the industry that is under USDA inspection and scrutiny to properly process this product into a ready-to-eat product not only makes perfect sense microbiologically, but it has zero impact on the public's health. As part of the mandatory HACCP program of these "processing or cooking establishments" -- they will be processed at a high enough temperature to kill any and all of the E. coli O157:H7 organisms that may be p
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SOURCE EHA Consulting Group, Inc.
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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