The federal government will ban the sale of ground beef tainted with six toxic strains of E. coli bacteria that are increasingly showing up as the cause of severe illness from food. Officials have been under pressure from food safety advocates and some elected officials to do more to keep the potentially deadly bacteria out of meat, but the beef industry said the move was not needed and could force the price of ground beef to rise.
The new rule means that six relatively rare forms of E. coli will be treated the same as their notorious and more common cousin, a strain called E. coli O157:H7. That strain has caused deaths and illnesses and prompted the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef and other products. It was banned from ground beef in 1994 after an outbreak killed four children and sickened hundreds of people.
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