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Better farming may mean safer food

9/08/2000-According to a recent Associated Press report, scientists are now working on ways to eliminate E. coli O157:H7 from cattle. At a government-sponsored conference on food safety, federal officials said improving farming practices was the most promising way to prevent foodborne illnesses. Research is under way on vaccines that would prevent cattle from carrying the bacteria, on feed additives that would eliminate it from the animals, and new methods of composting manure so it can be used as fertilizer without contaminating crops or ground water. The new feed additives contain good bacteria that are supposed to drive the E. coli out of a cow's digestive system, a process known as ``competitive exclusion.'' One pathogen that is unlikely to be affected by changes in farm practices is Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that is common throughout the environment. Consumer activists worry that cost-conscious farmers won't change farming practices unless the government forces them to do so. USDA, which regulates meat and poultry processors, doesn't have the authority to regulate how farmers raise their animals. The FDA, which regulates egg safety, is working on new production standards for farms to curb Salmonella.



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