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Serving: WI

Beef Plants Being Scrutinized

Agriculture Department safety officials are checking to see that guidelines are being followed to reduce e. coli contamination.

Food Safety and Inspection Service are wrapping up a survey of the nation's beef processing plants to make sure guidelines for reducing e. coli contamination are being followed. In 2002, USDA put out recommendations to meat plants on how to reduce contamination, but the investigation of the Topps hamburger recall revealed the Topps plant had stopped following those recommendation at some point.

Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond says they don't know if this is an isolated incident or just the tip of the iceberg, so FSIS is looking at the 1500 plants in the U.S. that process beef.

"Those results will be analyzed this month and that will tell us how many of those plants are indeed following the 2002 guidelines and how many may not be," Raymond say. "Based on that information we may need to come up with new policies, guidelines, maybe even rules and regs if we need to."

Raymond says it's been a tough year with more contamination, recalls, and illness due to e. coli and corrective and preventative measures need to be taken so we don't see this again next year.

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