WASHINGTON – Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced the E. coli Traceability and Eradication Act in the House of Representatives Thursday. The bill seeks to require testing procedures for meat processing facilities with the goal of eradicating E. coli. The traceability portion of the legislation is intended to give the U.S. Department of Agriculture more authority to implement faster recalls.

If enacted, the bill would require slaughterhouses and facilities that grind meat to test the ground beef and beef trim produced multiple times throughout the manufacturing process. Should any of the facilities produce products that are contaminated with E. coli for either three consecutive days or 10 days throughout a year, the company name will be posted to a list of safety offenders with the U.S.D.A. For facilities that are found to be producing contaminated meat, the U.S.D.A. will test products for 15 consecutive days following the positive test.

“This legislation will require rigorous new testing standards, calling for multiple examinations of products and specifically testing for all Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria,” said Ms. DeLauro. “And should test results reveal E. coli contamination, this bill will require slaughter facilities to report it to U.S.D.A. immediately. Also, because this bill will require processors to test incoming beef trim, it would cease the current industry practice of processors being blackballed by their suppliers.

“Another important component of this bill is that, when E. coli is detected at a facility, it would require U.S.D.A. to establish a traceback procedure all the way back to the original source of the contamination. This will allow U.S.D.A. to recall products more quickly and prevent additional illnesses during an outbreak. Our current food safety system is not doing its job – contaminated meat is still hitting the shelves, and people are still getting sick.

This legislation will establish higher standards for food safety and protect the public health.”