William Neuman of the New York Times got Dr. Hagen on record this week in his article, “Beef Recall Heats Up Fight to Tighten Rules:”
Dr. Hagen has yet to say publicly what she plans to do. But in a written statement provided to The New York Times, she said, “In order to best prevent illnesses and deaths from dangerous E. coli in beef, our policies need to evolve to address a broader range of these pathogens, beyond E. coli O157:H7.” She added, “Our approach should ensure that public health and food safety policy keeps pace with the demonstrated advances in science and data about food-borne illness to best protect consumers.”
The agency has said that it is reluctant to make additional forms of toxic E. coli illegal in ground beef until it has developed a rapid test that can detect those strains in packing plants. Such tests are not expected to be ready until at least late next year.
The AP, picked up the same story and quote from the TImes.
I do not want to sound like a broken record, but we can not wait yet another year or years for more tests to develop that might be more convenient for FSIS and the beef industry. The time has come to do the logical thing (at a minimum). If E. coli O157:H7 is an adulterant because it can kill your child, then other non-O157 STECs (like O26, O45, 0103, O111, O121, and O145) that cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year, should be adulterants as well.
I think I pretty clearly set forth the rationale for FSIS action on these other six pathogens, “Non – E. coli O157:H7 EHEC (O26, O45, O111, O121, O145, and O103) should be “Adulterants”” and in the Pettion and Supplement 1 and Supplement 2, that we filed with the agency nearly one year ago. As for testing – I have $500,000 reasons to say there are tests that already work.
Perhaps it is time for a Court to decide this?