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U.S. to Expedite E. Coli Tracking

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will unveil plans Wednesday to begin acting more quickly to prevent outbreaks of E. coli illnesses by tracking contaminated ground beef to its source as soon as a preliminary test detects the bacteria, according to a government document.

The USDA now waits for confirmation tests before it takes action, but the new rule would allow officials to begin chasing tainted meat immediately, according to the government statement, which was viewed by Dow Jones Newswires.

"The additional safeguards we are announcing today will improve our ability to prevent foodborne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen said in the statement. "Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public-health protections for consumers."

The USDA said it was required to make the changes by Congress when it passed the 2008 farm bill.

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