WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that the Agriculture Department is planning to expand testing of E. coli bacteria in meat.

Until now, USDA has focused on the most common strain of E. coli. Other strains of the disease have increasingly been found in food in recent years, but meat is not tested for these other strains.

According to three people outside the agency who have been briefed on the decision, meat inspectors will begin testing for six additional strains of E. coli in some cuts of meat in March. The people requested anonymity because they had been asked not to discuss the matter publicly.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.