CDC Reports Decrease in E. coli Illnesses -- Beef Industry Keeps Focus on Safety Improvements
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Date: Monday, April 19, 2010
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of illness due to E. coli O157 significantly decreased in 2009. The 2009 E. coli illness rate is the lowest since 2004 and meets the Healthy People 2010 goal to cut the number of O157 illnesses in half.
This is good news for beef producers and consumers.
“Anyone involved in the ongoing battle to improve food safety is gratified by the news that illnesses from E. coli O157 have declined,” says James O. Reagan, Ph.D., chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) and senior vice president of research, education and innovation for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “However, E. coli O157 is a tough, adaptable foe and our work is not done.”
Through beef checkoff investments and widespread industry commitment, the beef industry continues to make strides toward reducing the incidence of O157 by implementing multiple interventions throughout the beef production chain.
“Beef industry efforts to reduce the incidence of E. coli O157 started in 1993, and our collective goal continues to be producing the safest beef possible for our consumers,” continues Reagan.“We must remain aggressive in our efforts to keep this and other foodborne pathogens out of our food.
Beef farmers and ranchers have invested more than $28 million of their Beef Checkoff dollars in safety research since 1993; and together, the beef industry spends more than $350 million annually on safety efforts. Reagan cautions that although today’s news is encouraging, research to help the industry better understand foodborne pathogens and identify new ways of controlling them must continue to be a priority.
The checkofffounded BIFSCo in 1997 to bring all segments of the industry together around the common goal of improving beef safety. This group shares the philosophy that the best safety solutions result from cooperation among the industry – when food chain partners share the data, knowledge and experiences that contribute to improved safety systems. BIFSCo has led efforts to identify and implement farm-to-fork safety programs, including developing the best practices that serve as a road map for reducing E. coli throughout the beef production chain.
For more information on the industry’s beef safety efforts, visit BIFSCo.org
. For more information about programs funded by your checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com
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The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.
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