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Victims of Contaminated Meat Call on USDA to Address Deadly Pathogens
Date:3/18/2010

"Could Your Lunch Kill You?" Protest Shines Spotlight on Need for New Meat Regulations

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- S.T.O.P. - Safe Tables Our Priority and victims of foodborne illness called upon the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recognize as adulterants six other potentially deadly types of E. coli bacteria in addition to the notorious E. coli O157:H7 that is currently classified as an adulterant.  All seven strains are known to cause devastating human illness and are transmitted through feces-contaminated beef products.

"The USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have known for decades of the public health risks posed by non-O157 strains of E. coli," said S.T.O.P. President Nancy Donley, whose son died from E. coli O157 in 1993. "Yet, 10 years after requiring public health laboratories to report positive test results for these strains from infected people, nothing has been done to prevent meat contaminated with these strains from entering into commerce."

E. coli O157:H7 was declared an adulterant in ground beef in 1994 in the aftermath of an outbreak that sickened more than 700 people and killed at least four. The CDC has since identified six additional strains of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) -- O26, O111, O103, O121, O45 and O145 -- associated with severe illness and death. Just like E. coli O157:H7, these STEC strains get into the nation's beef supply when cattle feces contaminate meat during slaughter and processing.  

 At a demonstration outside USDA, Donley and other victim members of S.T.O.P. demanded that USDA enact health-based strategies to prevent all types of E. coli-contaminated beef from reaching consumers' tables. This includes:

  • Recognizing as adulterants the six additional E. coli strains. 
  • Expanding the definition of adulterant to include E .coli O157:H7 when in any type of beef, not just ground beef or beef intended for ground beef.
  • Implementing better ways of tracing all STEC outbreaks to prevent widespread illness and deaths.
  • Asking Congress for mandatory USDA recall authority. Currently, all government agency food recalls are voluntary and issued by the companies responsible.

According to the CDC, 76 million Americans become sick from foodborne pathogens each year and 325,000 are hospitalized, of which 5,000 die.

For more information and to sign up for E-alerts on food recalls and outbreaks, visit www.safetables.org.

SOURCE S.T.O.P.-Safe Tables Our Priority

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SOURCE S.T.O.P.-Safe Tables Our Priority
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