So, said the headline in my favorite online magazine – Cattlenetworks yesterday.
What the American Meat Institute thinks you need to know:
On August 18, AMI sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack outlining a path FSIS should take to address nSTECs prior to making a regulatory decision.
1. FSIS should have a transparent public policy decision-making process, which is based on sound science resulting in quantifiable improvements to public health outcomes.
2. Prior to any regulatory actions, FSIS should commission a baseline study of the nSTECs to determine the prevalence of nSTECs in the production of ground beef and the beef components that may be used to manufacture of ground beef, which is necessary for a systematic evaluation for the public health risk of nSTECs.
3. AMI also recommended that a risk assessment should be performed to determine if current preventative food safety processes for E. coli O157:H7 are adequate for nSTECs, identify knowledge gaps that need further research, identify areas of potential food safety vulnerability to nSTECs and ultimately determine the public health risk of nSTECs in the production of ground beef and the beef components that may be used to manufacture ground beef.
4. A baseline study and a risk assessment for nSTECs are necessary as critical first steps in developing a systematic preventative process control program for nSTECs in raw beef production.
5. AMI recommended that if FSIS decides to regulate nSTECs in beef products further, it should only be done through a scientifically-based and transparent regulatory process and only if such regulatory action will quantifiably improve public health.
What I think you need to know:
Non-O157 STECs (like O26, O45, 0103, O111, O121, and O145) cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year.