From farm gate to board room, agricultural interests are restructuring to cope with changing times. A corporate case in point was revealed this week when one of the nation's largest food companies announced it was bailing on the meat business.
Company officials have described the move as their way of making the company more profitable in the future. The recall of 19 million pounds of the company's E. coli-tainted ground beef has not helped the company's shaky financial position.
(Slug USDA Meat inspectors)
The sale comes just as the USDA is planning to toughen food safety policies. The department is poised to begin random testing for E. coli in meat processing plants across the U.S..
The new regulations are a response to the increase of E. coli contaminated meat products making it past the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points barricade.
Department officials do not know the reason for the increase in contamination but want the deadly bacterium totally eliminated from the food stream.
Consumer groups are hailing the move as a good start while meatpackers are claiming the goal is unattainable.
The new regulations are expected to take effect in the next few weeks.