03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

USDA Admits There's "No Magic Bullet" To Preventing Meat Contamination

Late last month, the Agriculture Department announced its 20th recall of beef this year because of contamination with a toxic strain of the bacterium E. coli. That is only one recall shy of a record set in 2000 and matched in 2002.

No one knows for sure what is causing the jump in recalls, though theories abound, from the cyclical nature of pathogens to changes in cattle-feeding practices caused by the popularity of ethanol.

This much is clear: Fifteen years after an outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants made people aware that hamburgers could kill them, the American beef industry is still searching for a practical method to prevent the toxic E. coli strain from contaminating ground beef.

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