Expanded non-O157 testing to cost an extra $1M

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) made public its cost-benefit analysis of expanding its non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) testing of beef manufacturing trimmings to include ground beef and ground beef components other than trimmings.

FSIS said the cost for the current testing program, including agency and industry testing, is about $1.37 million. It would cost another $1 million to test bench trim, other beef components and raw ground beef, bringing the grand total to about $2.37 million. The agency noted that of the $2.37 million, $1.38 million is for FSIS and $0.99 million for the industry.

Benefits associated with expanded non-O157 STEC testing include reduced illnesses and deaths, reduced outbreak-related recalls and improved business practices, the agency said.

"FSIS has concluded that the benefits accruing to industry, government and consumers from this new testing policy will result in net economic benefits," the agency noted. "However, FSIS was not able to quantify the benefits of expanding the testing."

FSIS based its estimates on agency testing data and information collected through the FSIS 2013 Pathogen Controls in Beef Operations Survey. The agency is requesting comment on its updated analysis. The full announcement is available on the FSIS website.
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