DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A week after the Agriculture Department announced wider testing for potentially deadly E. coli in meat, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that regulations were overburdening food producers.

Bachmann visited a 140-year-old, family-run meatpacking plant in Des Moines and took a turn at cutting ribeye steaks in a chilly meat locker as she pushed back against regulations for food makers and other businesses. She did not call for the repeal of any specific rules.

“We want to have safety,” she said. “But we also want to have common sense.”

Bachmann says, as do most of those in the GOP field, that a lightened regulatory load would allow employers to spend money on expansion rather than federal compliance. But the Minnesota congresswoman is the first to focus the argument on the food-processing industry.

“That’s part of the problem, the overkill,” Bachmann told reporters during an appearance in which she posed with huge slabs of beef. “And when they make it complicated, they make it expensive and so then you can no longer stay in business.”

The Agriculture Department said expanding testing of E. coli in meat from one strain to seven would hasten recalls of tainted products and help officials identify more foodborne illnesses. However, the meat industry opposed the move as too expensive without enough benefit. The USDA expects the additional testing to begin in March.

Bachmann’s backing of the food industry view that regulations are a problem follows high-profile recalls of peanuts, eggs and other tainted food products. The most recent multistate alert focused on cantaloupes amid a listeria outbreak blamed for at least four deaths in New Mexico. Officials said this week that tainted cantaloupes had sickened at least 35 people in 10 states.

Bachmann wrapped up a two-day Iowa campaign swing at Amend Packing Co., where owner Kent Wiese said his business had never been cited for food-safety violations yet struggled to keep up with federal regulations, especially amid the economic downturn.

“We do have a clean record,” Wiese said, explaining the battery of self-testing and regular USDA testing conducted at his plant. “And it all costs money. And I just wish that they could simplify it and just test it once and be done with it.”

Wiese said large-scale meatpackers should be required to submit to a more rigorous testing regimen, because of the volume of animals they process. Wiese butchers 12 to 15 head of cattle once a week, while national meatpackers handle hundreds per hour.

Congress passed a sweeping food safety bill at the end of last year with strong support from the Obama administration. Bachmann was among those who voted against it.

Small-scale food producers often argue that their products are safer because they are produced in smaller, less-mechanized batches. Experts counter that unsafe food can be produced anywhere.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (19)
  1. Sue says:

    Has there been anything that Bachmann has voted for, except the light bulb act.
    I believe she votes NO on everything that comes through Congress and she wants to become President, we would be in worse shape if she ever was to become President.
    Thank God this will never happen.

  2. Richard in Minneapolis says:

    All of her proclamations are so devoid of detail or substance. They can be summed up in a nutshell: “Iim FOR everything that’s good and AGAINST everything that’s bad. Vote for me and trust me to figure out the difference between the two later.”

  3. k-mart says:

    Her family has ties to farming does it not? I am not surprised she was less regulation in the food industry, it would probably cost her money somehow..

  4. Heidi says:

    Bachmann’s extreme stances, unsubstantiated statements, and frequent speak-before-you-know-anything-about-it moments on a variety of topics have led her to where she is today…losing her grip on her run for the presidency. Thank goodness, she is finally being brought to task on the ridiculous things that come out of her mouth. You made a fool of yourself one too many times, Michelle.

  5. Maria says:

    Does she was her hands before she prepares sushi? Does she ever wash her hands? I heard she had an affair with Charles Nelson Reiley.

  6. G Dog says:

    Can I interest you in some ground turkey, Michele???

  7. EColi is Yummy!! says:

    How about some cantaloupe?

    Maybe some spinach?

  8. Me says:

    Michele Bachmann tries to get the E-coli vote.

  9. jan says:

    Maybe a little salmonella would be good for her with some listeria and ecoli thrown in for added flavor.

  10. AntiTeabagger says:

    Maybe she should eat a nice big E.Coli burger, What a stupid broad.

  11. robert says:

    I’m just waiting to see the headlines “Bachmann drops out of the Presidential Race” it is only a matter of time.

  12. Mike says:

    What’s next, an announcement that Michele has found a way to implement her $2.00 a gallon gas plan by eliminating half the population through deregulation of the food processing industry? They ought to plan a sequel to Dumb and Dumber, with an addition of her role as dumbest.

    1. Beetchmann says:

      that would be an insult to Dumb and Dumber
      If you wanted to say Linda Lovelace and Skank and Skankier and then Bachmann as the Skankier Skankest maybe …. but Linda would likely be insulted too.
      Oh Michelle — you just blow. period

  13. Michelle says:

    People are finally realizing what a complete nut she is. She has an incurable case of foot-in-mouth disease.

  14. Tom says:

    I see she use the words “common sense”. She doesn’t even know what the words mean! lol

  15. Murph says:

    Being a GOP’er she’s used to mingling with dead meat!

  16. Mark says:

    We all hope she will drop out of the Presidential race soon. But the real question is whether she will try to regain her seat in the 6th congressional district, and if the citizens there have had enough of this career politician.

    1. Tea is good for you says:

      Despite the lack of attedance, Bachman has not given up her seat so thus regain is the wrong word..

  17. Cindy Scroggins says:

    next she’ll advocate Soylent Green.

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