Presently the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is holding hostage FSIS’s desire to move forward with deeming certain other non-O157 E. coli’s adulterants. I will forgo arguing that FSIS did not in fact need to ask OMB’s permission, or that it should have been done years ago, but WE are where WE are.
Food Safety News a few weeks ago, did a great job of explaining what has (more importantly, what has not) happened over at FSIS with non-O157:H7 over that last decade. It is worth the read to put most of this into context.
How do WE continue to justify to the public that E. coli O157:H7 is an adulterant in beef (right – only certain kinds and cuts), but E. coli O104:H4 – the deadly German cousin – is not?
So, IF anyone was testing for E. coli O104:H4 (Costco and BPI are testing for some of the big six and Costco may be testing for others too), and found it in beef, they would not be under any obligation to inform the pubic, recall it or withhold the product from the market, but an FDA regulated company would.
Below, I have pulled together most of what is out there on testing of non-O157 in beef and non-O157 illness in the United States. Clearly WE all know it is in beef, but FSIS does not consider non-O157’s that have caused human illness adulterants, but FDA does. There have been plenty of “baseline” tests. Anymore argument that we need more tests is simply a delay tactic.
F. Petition Number 09-03: 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)
CDC’s estimates of the annual number of illnesses caused by Shiga toxin (Stx) producing E. coli (both O157:H7 and non O157:H7) are as follows:
E. coli O157:H7 – 73,000 illnesses, 2200 hospitalizations and 61 deaths
Non-O157 STEC – 113,000 illnesses, 1100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths
The inaction on non-O157 E. coli only make sense in Washington D.C.