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Saturday
Jul162011

Food Companies Act to Protect Customers from E-coli Bacteria

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(DAKOTA DUNES, S.D.) -- Tired of waiting for federal government regulators to act, companies are drumming up new regulation strategies to keep dangerous strains of E. coli from affecting the food supply.

Two major American companies, Costco Wholesale and Beef Products Inc. are taking initiatives to protect customers after a deadly wave of E. coli sickness swept through Europe this spring and raised alarm on both sides of the Atlantic.

In June, Costco, one of the nation’s largest food retailers, began requiring its suppliers of bagged produce to test for a broad range of toxic E. coli bacteria.

Costco also plans to test all of the ground beef sold at its warehouse stores.

This week, Beef Products, a large manufacturer of lean beef, announced that it had started testing for the six additional strains of E. coli at one of its five grinding plants.

The South Dakota-based company, said it would start testing in its four other plants as soon as it could get enough test kits from manufacturers, which just began producing them.

Until recently, the produce and beef industries focused E. coli prevention efforts on a single strain of the bacteria, known as O157:H7, which was responsible for scores of outbreaks and recalls.

Public health experts identified six rarer forms, often referred to as the “Big Six,” which have been found to be the cause of illness related to food, including an outbreak in the U.S. last year traced to tainted romaine lettuce.

Each type of E. coli has different characteristics, making it a challenge for developing tests to rapidly detect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio