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U.S. Unveils Stricter Food-Safety Standards
Date:7/7/2009

Measures aimed at reducing salmonella and E. coli outbreaks

TUESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- In an effort to reduce salmonella, E. coli and other outbreaks of food-borne illness, U.S. health officials on Tuesday announced a series of new safety standards.

The standards are the product of a panel formed by President Barack Obama to create safety guidelines for eggs, poultry, beef, and vegetables. The panel also is calling for better communication between the agencies responsible for safeguarding the U.S. food supply, according to published reports.

The new rules follow major outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli contamination in recent months and years.

"The food safety working group created by President Obama in mid-March has come back with a series of important recommendations to make our food safety system better," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a White House press conference.

Outbreaks from food-borne illnesses kill an estimated 5,000 Americans each year and send hundreds of thousands to the hospital, Sebelius said.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during the briefing that the goals include strengthening rules related to salmonella in poultry and "try to do a better job of making sure that we detect E. coli in ground beef in particular."

Under the new rules, according to the Associated Press:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will help the food industry create better tracking methods to locate the source of a food-borne illness.
  • A network will be created to improve communication among all the federal agencies that regulate food safety.
  • To find E. coli contamination, the Agriculture Department's Food Safety Inspection Service will increase sampling of ground beef ingredients.

In a related move, the FDA announced Tuesday a new regulation to help make eggs saf
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