National

Jun 16, 2010 8:38 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Regulators consider broadening testing for E. coli

Food safety advocates are pushing the U.S. government to step up efforts to monitor less common E. coli strains.

The food industry and government regulators have focused for years on finding the most virulent strain, which has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands every year.

But they don't regularly test for six less common strains that can cause illnesses equally as serious. Most recently, two dozen illnesses in four states were tied this spring to bagged romaine lettuce contaminated by an uncommon E. coli strain. Industry officials say tests aren't available for widespread monitoring of those less common strains.

But a Seattle law firm known for food-illness lawsuits has petitioned the USDA to list them as adulterants in meat, requiring regular screening.

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