UPDATE 1-Wal-Mart to tighten beef safety measures
* Says step to protect customers against food-borne illnesses
* Says suppliers must comply with new standard
* To ensure no extra cost to customers
April 29 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said it would implement additional beef safety measures to protect customers against food-borne illnesses.
The new program requires Wal-Mart and Sam's Club beef suppliers to implement controls to reduce potential contamination levels, the world's biggest retailer said.
Suppliers who do not operate slaughter houses must comply with the new standard by June 2011, while beef slaughterhouse suppliers would have a two-step approach, with the first step to be completed by June 2011 and the second by June 2012, Wal-Mart said.
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club will work with suppliers to ensure the measures are implemented without additional cost to customers, it said in a statement.
Shares of Wal-Mart closed at $53.61 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Vidya Lakshmi in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)