WASHINGTON – Routine tests of raw beef manufacturing trim for six additional strains of E. coli will begin, as scheduled, on June 4, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirmed May 31. Trim found to be contaminated with any of the strains will not be allowed into the food supply and will be subject to recall.
The additional strains that will be treated as adulterants beginning June 4 are Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145. FSIS said these serogroups are as dangerous as E. coli O157:H7 because they can cause severe illness and even death. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk. Illnesses due to E. coli serogroups other than O157:H7 outnumber those attributed to O157:H7. FSIS declared O157:H7 an adulterant in 1994 following a high-profile illness outbreak in 1993.
"These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation's food supply.”