While most E. coli outbreaks that have riveted the public for nearly two decades involved one strain, the government will soon outlaw another six strains in the same family of bacteria.
Next month, the Agriculture Department will begin testing raw ground beef at meat plants for the “Big Six” to keep these pathogens off people’s plates.
The decision comes four years after scientists and government experts warned of the dangers these germs pose to the nation’s food supply. Since then, the Big Six have been repeatedly tied to multi-state outbreaks and illnesses.
Most of those illnesses were not linked to beef. They were linked to sprouts or lettuce or no source at all. The meat industry argues it is being unfairly targeted. Only once before — with the notorious E. coli O157:H7 — have regulators banned a pathogen from fresh meat.