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When Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing in Ferrisburgh recalled more than 2,000 pounds of ground beef Thursday, owner Carl Cushing said that none of the government's tests found any E. coli in his meat, but that he would cooperate in the interest of safety.
Laura Reiser, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, confirmed Friday that tests of Cushing's beef came back negative, but said that did not mean there was no E. coli.
Reiser explained that testing is performed by taking a random sample from a batch of meat and testing it. However, she said E. coli can have a local presence in a batch of meat and thus remain undetected. "Even if a test is negative, it's possible that the E. coli wasn't in the part that was (tested)," she said.
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