Why US Would Be Screwed if E. Coli Hit Our Crops
Also, new details emerge about strain that 'glues' itself to intestines
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 3, 2011 8:39 AM CDT
A man unloads crates of cucumbers near Malaga on June 3, 2011 after officials in Hamburg, blamed Spanish cucumbers for the spread of the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – If the new E. coli strain rampaging through Europe ever found its way into US crops, Americans would be pretty screwed—because it would be totally legal to distribute the contaminated veggies. Farmers and processors aren’t required to test their produce for emerging pathogens like this one, the Washington Post explains. “It would represent a major disaster in terms of the US food industry and risk to humans,” says one former USDA official. “The regulatory framework is a couple steps behind.”

Scientists tell Reuters that this new E. coli strain is probably the most toxic to ever hit humans: It combines a highly poisonous toxin with a rare “glue” that makes it stick to intestines. The USDA says it’ll be reviewing its policies on emerging pathogens, but in the meantime the FDA is monitoring produce imported from infected countries. Russia yesterday went so far as to ban all produce from the European Union, CNN reports.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Jun 3, 2011 11:38 PM CDT
Bacteria will always be ahead of human immune systems... There are a lot more bacteria than humans.... Be scared, very scared.....
Jun 3, 2011 3:21 PM CDT
LOL I live in Germany... and we also don't have such requiered tests... some spot tests but far too little. In fact nobody knows where it comes from! The last case we had, was in january. When a fodder producer used industrial fat for animal food with the result of dioxin infested eggs and chickens... even China stopped importing our chickens... AND we got enough economic regulations!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 3, 2011 9:53 AM CDT
Well of course, because the market self regulates, all government regulation is bad, companies don't have an economic incentive to under-regulate or hide information, and consumers stupid enough to eat contaminated food deserve whatever happens to them. /sarcasm