The Clinton Administration proposed legislation to give the Agriculture Department more control over meat and poultry inspection and require processors to test their products for harmful bacteria. For the first time, the USDA would be required to find out at what levels contaminants in raw meat and poultry pose a public health threat, just as the government now does for pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables. Products that exceed specified levels could not be sold. The plan also gives the department authority to recall adulterated products, establish a system to trace contaminated meat and poultry back to the farm and impose civil penalties on processors who violate the rules. USDA inspectors currently rely on sight, smell and touch to examine each meat carcass.