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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Petition for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Including Non-O157 Serotypes, to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 601(m)(1).

This Petition to the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Services is being filed Tuesday.  Click below to download the Petition and attachments.  Be patient, it is a big document and takes time.

As I said in a post the other day, the petition details the scientific and legal bases for the requested action, but perhaps more importantly it details the suffering that food contaminated with non-O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli inflicted upon three individuals: June Dunning, Megan Richards, and Shiloh Johnson. Ms. Dunning, whose infection was caused by E. coli O146:H21, unfortunately succumbed to her illness, passing in 2006. Ms. Richards and Ms. Johnson endured lengthy hospitalizations, kidney failure, and will both endure a lifetime of medical complications as a result of their E. coli O121:H19 and E. coli O111 infections (respectively).

  • T.Ed. & Marie Webb

    We would like to support your petition. Our food industry is not going to act in the interest of public health without much more effective regulation.

  • Richard Raymond

    Non-0157 STECS are adulterants and here’s why
    (The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
    Food borne illnesses caused by non-0157 Shiga Toxin producing E coli (non-0157 STECs) were made reportable by the CDC in 2000.While illnesses from these pathogens are still under diagnosed and under reported, the numbers are rising every year, and the severity of illnesses is getting to be better recognized and acknowledged.
    It is time to declare these bugs adulterants.
    There will be debate today about whether to declare all E coli as an adulterant (define zero tolerance), or just those causing enterohemorrhagic illnesses, limit to just the top three non-0157 STECs that have caused 67% of the illnesses from non-0157 STECs, or even just listing serotype 0111 as an adulterant would help, as this pathogen has caused as many outbreaks as the next three on the list combined.
    One argument used against declaring non-0157 STECs as adulterants is that illnesses are generally less severe than with 0157. Of those victims suffering illness from 0157, 8% develop HUS. But 2% of those victims falling ill from non-0157 also suffer from HUS. And there have been deaths reported. The last major outbreak was last year in Oklahoma, where over 300 people were stricken, 70 hospitalized, 17 developed HUS, and one died. That is a potent pathogen, so I do not view this argument as having much merit.
    Another argument is that they just aren’t that prevalent, but the number of illnesses reported has risen every year since reporting became mandatory, and the number of outbreaks is also rising as more and better testing is done. In 2000, the first year of reporting, only 0.12/100,000 population suffered from non-0157 illnesses. In 2006 it was up to 0.42/100,000 and with the OK outbreak, we know 2008 will be still higher. In those states where testing includes both 0157 and non-0157 the results are very similar—non-0157 appears to cause food borne illnesses at the same rate as 0157 does.
    Dr. Samadapour reported at the 7th International Symposium on Shiga Toxin producing E coli that his lab had found non-0157 in 1.9% of ground beef sampled from retail stores. One out of every 50 packages contained this pathogen. That is not zero tolerance.
    This pathogen is being found to contribute to even more serious human food borne illnesses than was once believed. And as labs increase their testing, the numbers will continue to rise. It is already a burden on society and our health care system.
    We need it out of our food.