I always start my morning on Meatingplace, in part to see what nasty thing the tools of the meat industry have to say about me, but also for breaking news they get with their close relationship to FSIS. I was drawn to the story this morning by Michael Fielding:
Citing a complete lack of positive results after nine years of testing, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) is suspending analyses of dry and semi-dry fermented sausages and fully cooked meat patties for E. coli O157:H7.
Despite testing more than 10,000 samples of the products, the agency has found no regulatory positive results and is reassessing its testing program for E. coli O157:H7 in dry and semi-dry fermented sausage products for verifying process controls.
Meanwhile, the agency plans to increase testing for the pathogen in raw products that pose a more immediate public health impact.
I hope this is progress, although I am perplexed how stopping testing would help prevent the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that the CDC and FSIS reported a few months ago:
at least 14 persons are infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli serotype O157:H7 have been reported from Maryland (3 cases), New Jersey (2 cases), North Carolina (1 case), Ohio (2 cases) and Pennsylvania (6 cases). Palmyra Bologna Company, of Palmyra, PA, is recalling approximately23,000 pounds of Seltzer Brand Lebanon bologna products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. Here is the retail distribution list.
Lebanon bologna is a type of cured, smoked, fermented, semi-dry sausage. The thermal processing of Lebanon bologna typically does not exceed 120 °F (49 °C) due to undesirable quality effects high heat has on the final product. Because it is not cooked to a higher temperature, other ingredients and processes are used to control microbial growth. This time the process clearly failed.