The season of backyard grilling is upon us--and the government is taking action to help make our barbecues safer.
The USDA is expanding the search for dangerous bacteria in meat. The meat industry is now being required to test meat trimmings for six new strains of E. coli that have been linked to a growing number of illnesses. Previously, the meat industry was only required to test for one strain, which killed four children after an outbreak at Jack in the Box.
Food safety advocates for years have been pushing the Obama administration to expand testing, but the change was delayed while the meat industry fought the proposal. The industry has said the tests are too expensive and there aren't enough benefits.
The new tests will be conducted on beef trimmings — parts of the cow used to make ground beef — and expanded later to ground beef itself and other cuts.
Thousands of people each year get sick from E. coli bacteria. The youngest and oldest among us are the most susceptible. E. coli can cause diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure.
Safety experts advise consumers to cook ground beef to a temperature of 160 degrees.
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