According to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, recent U.S. Dept. of Agriculture reports indicate nearly one in 300 samples of ground beef contains E. coli.
Contaminated food kills 5,700 Americans each year and the nation’s food safety laws have not been overhauled in a century, she adds.
As the first New York senator to sit on the senate agriculture committee in 40 years, she announced the introduction of the E. coli Eradication Act, legislation she authored that would, for the first time, federally mandate testing of all ground beef for E. coli.
"The annual number of national recalls of ground beef and other beef products contaminated with E. coli is in the double digits – at least 12 this year so far this year," the senator said.
She went on to say it is time for a fundamentally new approach to food safety that catches contaminated food before it ever comes close to a kitchen table.
"The E. coli Eradication Act is an important step towards ensuring that the food going straight to kitchens, school cafeterias and restaurants is property tested and safe," Sen. Gillibrand said.
Ground beef is particularly vulnerable to E. coli because its source material is not from a single cut of meat but instead it is a compilation of trimmings from many parts, including fat that lies near surfaces of possibly contaminated hides.
While some grinders that process ground beef voluntarily test the meat before and after grinding, there is currently no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for E. coli.