To the Editor:
Regarding Andrea Mink’s and Suki Chandrasekaran’s opinion that the beef industry is not to be blamed for E. coli contamination in the article entitled “E. coli bacteria can contaminate more than beef” on Sept 18, 2002, I beg to disagree. Most E. coli O157:H7 contamination of vegetables and fruits is due to exposure to raw beef in the kitchen or during transport, or to exposure to cattle feces in the field.
The beef industry has repeatedly lobbied the federal government against regulations, which would decrease the rates of E. coli O157:H7 and continues to refuse legislation that would require the testing of apparently healthy animals for the presence of the bacteria.
Given the frequency and scale of outbreaks of this type of bacteria both directly from beef and from secondary contamination of produce, we as consumers and voters should demand better regulation of the beef industry. If that were to occur, fewer outbreaks from any source would happen.
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology