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updated 4/5/2011 2:59:39 PM ET 2011-04-05T18:59:39

The Obama administration is aiming to prevent meat recalls by withholding meat and poultry products from grocery store shelves until government testing is complete.

The Agriculture Department proposed rules Tuesday that would force companies to delay shipments to consumers until government inspectors have released tests on the meat. The department's Food Safety and Inspection Service has inspectors in all meat plants that sample for E. coli and other contaminants.

Currently, products that are sampled can be shipped before testing results are known, though many companies already have procedures in place to hold the meat. The agency said at least 44 recalls between 2007 and 2009 could have been prevented if the rule had been in place.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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