Food Industry Bitten By Its Lobbying Success

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Washington (AP) An easing of government rules on the amount of paperwork the food industry has to keep appears to be hampering a federal probe into what caused the recent salmonella outbreak.

The industry had successfully lobbied the Bush administration to limit the paperwork. The White House also killed a plan to require the industry to maintain electronic tracking records that could be easily reviewed to search for the source of an outbreak.

Companies had complained the proposals were too burdensome and costly.

But the changes have slowed the salmonella probe. Investigators initially focused on tomatoes as the culprit and are now looking at jalepeno peppers.

The outbreak has sickened nearly 1,300 people in the U.S. and Canada. The financial impact is estimated at around a-quarter of a billion dollars in losses.

The industry now says it will agree to a better food tracking system, as long as the industry can help design it.