Minnesota Department of Agriculture screening program for food-borne pathogens gets discontinued
USDA end program that tests for food borne pathogens on fresh produce
By the end of the year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will have phased out a program to test locally grown produce for a variety of pathogens that includes both salmonella and E. coli. Congress has opted to discontinue funding for the federally based program for 2013. Federal officials have asked all 11 states that participate in the program to cease sample collections so that the program can officially come to an end on December 31.
Produce like lettuce, tomatoes, and cantaloupe could see an 80 percent decrease in inspections
According to a recent MPR report, the program had been responsible for uncovering multiple instances of contamination in the food system, most recently involving a salmonella contamination in grape tomatoes. In May the program was also responsible for initiating a recall on salmonella-contaminated spinach and in August on listeria-laden lettuce, reported Food Safety News. The ending of the program could result in a potential 80 percent reduction in produce testing for things like tomatoes, lettuce, and cantaloupes.
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