Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime advocate for more stringent food safety laws, introduced a bill yesterday with the “goal of completely eradicating the dangerous Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria.”
The E. coli Traceability and Eradication Act would set stricter testing procedures for meat companies and establish a tracking procedure to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement faster recalls in the event that contaminated meat is discovered.
According to DeLauro’s office, the bill would apply to slaugherhouses and grinding facilites, requiring firms to test ground beef and beef trim multiple times throughout the manufacturing process. All testing would be conducted by an independent, USDA-certified testing facility, including ‘beef trim,’ leftover pieces from larger cuts of meat commonly used in ground beef.
“Should any facilities be producing products that are unsafe for either three consecutive days or ten days throughout a year, the company named will be posted to a list of safety offenders with the USDA,” according to a statement from DeLauro’s office.
The legislation would also set a tracing protocol, allowing the USDA to more easily track the source of contaminated meat by looking up the supply chain.
“This will allow USDA to recall products more quickly and prevent additional illnesses during an outbreak,” said DeLauro. “Our current food safety system is not doing its job– contaminated meat is still hitting the shelves, and people are still getting sick. This legislation will establish higher standards for food safety and protect the public health.”
Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) introduced a similar bill last fall and has since pressured the USDA to regulated non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli.