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New Vaccines for Cattle Could Cut Bacteria Risk, But Who Will Pay?

How much are you willing to pay for a hamburger?

How much are you willing to pay for a hamburger?

OK. Now how much more would you pay to drastically reduce — but never fully eliminate — the long odds that it might send you to the hospital?

With a new vaccine for cattle, the beef industry may dramatically cut the risk that a potentially deadly bacteria finds its way to your dinner plate. Yet it’s unclear how, or if, that cost might be passed to the consumer.

“We’re not looking at food safety to use it as a competitive advantage,” said Mark Klein, a spokesman for beef packing and wholesaling company Cargill.

Put another way, saying your beef is less likely than the other guy’s to carry a cow-dung-dwelling pathogen isn’t the most appetizing way to sell meat.

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