U.S. could drop screening for deadly strain of E. coli


Monica Eng
LA Times
July 5, 2011

At a time of rising concern over pathogens in produce, Congress is moving to eliminate the only national program that regularly screens U.S. fruits and vegetables for the type of E. coli that recently caused a deadly outbreak in Germany.

The House last month approved a bill that would end funding for the 10-year-old Microbiological Data Program, which tests about 15,000 annual samples of vulnerable produce such as sprouts, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe and cilantro for pathogens including salmonella and E. coli.

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Over the last two years, its findings have triggered at least 19 produce recalls, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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